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Category: Politics

Arkansas Medicaid Expansion Alternative Clears State Legislature

Arkansas lawmakers in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature last week endorsed a plan to accept federal Medicaid money under the Affordable Care Act, but to use the new money to buy private insurance for eligible residents.

The Obama administration and federal officials haven’t approved the Arkansas plan, but the outcome is sure to be closely watched in Tennessee.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam also has said he will not expand TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program. Haslam favors a model similar to the one proposed in Arkansas: the state would use federal funds to purchase private insurance for residents who can’t afford it. Ohio also is seeking permission from the Obama administration to pursue a similar option.

The TennCare expansion would have covered an estimated 140,000 of the state’s 1 million uninsured residents, the Associated Press reported. Haslam has said leveraging federal dollars to purchase private insurance will insure 175,000 state residents.

FedEx Wins $10.5 Billion U.S. Postal Service Contract

FedEx Corp. said today it won a $10.5 billion contract to provide domestic air transportation services for the U.S. Postal Service.

The Memphis-based shipping giant had previously warned that the contract could be transitioned to another provider, like rival UPS, and that the terms and conditions of the new arrangement could be “less favorable” than the current contract, which expires in September 2013. The new contract begins in October 2013.

FedEx will keep the Postal Service contract to provide airport-to-airport transportation of Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail for another seven years.

“Following a rigorous evaluation of technical aspects, pricing, and other factors in the proposals, the Postal Service determined that the FedEx proposal represented the best value,” the agency said in a prepared statement.

The new deal allows for service improvements, capacity flexibility and other operational benefits, the Postal Service said.

FedEx says it expects Postal Service bid decision “shortly”

FedEx Corp. said it expects a decision “shortly” from The U.S. Postal Service on whether it will continue providing domestic air transportation services for its First-Class, Priority and Express Mail services.

The Memphis-based shipping giant disclosed that it anticipates a contract announcement soon in its most recent quarterly regulatory filing.

The U.S. Postal Service has solicited proposals for the delivery of these services after FedEx Express’ current contract ends in Sept. 2013. FedEx warned that the services could be transitioned to another provider, and that even if the Memphis-based company does retain the contract, the terms and conditions of the new arrangement may be “less favorable.”

FedEx also said that any changes in the Postal Service’s operations, network, services offerings or pricing could have an adverse result on FedEx’s financial results. Because the independent government agency is both a customer and a vendor for FedEx, the Postal Service’s financial struggles could also have an adverse impact on FedEx.

The Postal Service has said it could run out of money if Congress does not allow it to change its business model and increase profitability. Yesterday, The Postal Service said it would not end Saturday delivery of first-class mail, citing Congressional opposition.

Are Schools Really “Failing” — And Are They Being “Reformed”?

A very interesting, cautionary opinion piece from American Journalism Review about how the media covers schools.

http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=5280

We’ve spent a lot of time covering the schools in recent years in the paper and on the Behind the Headlines show. The reform efforts of Superintendent Kriner Cash, the Gates Foundation efforts, the rise of charter schools, and of course the pending consolidation of city and county schools, all have occupied a lot of space. For good reason, I think.

After reading this, though, I’m frantically trying to think about where, when and how often I’ve fallen into some of the easy lines described by Farhi.

Two items from the story that stuck out to me:

“’The discussion [of the state of schools] is quite simplistic. I’m not sure why exactly. My suspicion is that the media has trouble with complexity.’”

“In 2011, the percentage of parents who gave their children’s school an A grade was at its highest ever (37 percent), whereas only 1 percent of respondents rated the nation’s schools that way. Why the disparity in perceived quality? Gallup asked people about that, too. Mostly, it was because people knew about their local schools through direct experience. They only learned about the state of education nationally through the news media.”

 

Herenton Cohen & More at Chism Picnic

Shelby County Commission Sidney Chism held his 9th annual picnic in southwest Memphis this afternoon. Billed as a bipartisan political event, the picnic is a rite of passage for any Democrat seeking local or state office.

2009 is an off election year, except for those of you living in Arlington and Lakeland. But there is no such thing as an off year for politics in Memphis. That is certainly the case this year.

‘Some of you I love to death but I am not going to support you,” Chism said as candidates took turns speaking.

Here are a few observations from the Chism picnic:

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton showed up in campaign mode even though he had no campaign literature or t-shirts touting his bid in the 2010 Democratic Congressional primary. As he arrived, Herenton spotted Steve Steffens, also known by his blog name Left Wing Cracker. Steffens was wearing a Cohen campaign t-shirt — the only Cohen t-shirt seen in the crowd. Herenton saw it and immediately said, “Why are you wearing that loser t-shirt?”

“I wish all of you well, except one candidate,” Herenton told the crowd weighted heavily with politicians active, inactive and prospective. “That’s the one that’s running against me. I don’t wish him well.”

Cohen showed up shortly after Herenton left. And he minimized Herenton’s presence in the race. “If I have an opponent or don’t have an opponent, the issue is Steve Cohen and how I do in my district,” Cohen said. “It’s really not the opposition, it’s me.”

Neither Herenton nor Cohen had signs up.

The most surprising campaign signage of the day came from County Commissioner James Harvey. He had three large placards reading: “Memphis Mayor 2011. James Harvey vs. A.C. Wharton. Who Should Be Mayor? Harvey 2011.”

“They are not campaign signs. It’s basically a campaign notice. I’m putting a notice to the community that there are other options, other than A C Wharton,” Harvey told The Daily News. “I think the bench of black leadership is very thin. I want to expand the bench and be competitive.”

“I appreciate him helping me get my name out. We’re glad Commissioner Harvey’s helping us out,” Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. responded when asked about the sign. “Tell him to get it right though. There’s no periods after A and C.”

Democratic candidates for governor Kim McMillan of Clarksville and Mike McWherter of Jackson were at the picnic as was Republican candidate for governor and Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons. Democratic contenders Ward Cammack of Nashville and Roy Herron of Dresden had been in town the day before for a local Democratic party fundraiser at the Hatillo Theater.

State Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle had said he would make his decision on joining the Democratic pack once the legislative session ended. The session ended Thursday.

“I’m going to take a deep breath, take a break for a couple of weeks and talk to folks and see where we are. I’m awfully tired. We’ve had a hard year,” Kyle told The Daily News.

Shelby County Commission chairman Deidre Malone brought her still unofficial campaign for Shelby County mayor in the Democratic primary to the picnic along with plenty of supporters wearing t-shirts reading “Who Knows Shelby County?”

Also at the picnic, Bank of Bartlett president and 2002 mayoral contender Harold Byrd who was surprised to see some signs with his image and the slogan “United in Our Dreams.” Byrd is considering a bid in the 2010 Democratic mayoral primary but has made no decision yet. Chism has been a prominent backer of Byrd now as well as in 2002.

City Council chairman Myron Lowery was among the Malone supporters in the crowd. He took a turn on stage, saying “I am not running today, but I may be soon.” Lowery has expressed interest in running for Memphis mayor should Herenton leave before the end of his current term of office.

Herenton seemed to discourage that possibility, telling reporters that his supporters don’t want him to give up the mayor’s office while running for Congress.

Read more in Tuesday’s edition of The Daily News.

Dansette

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