A few thoughts on a few, somewhat random, topics...
Russian agents targeted Twin Falls. Last week The Daily Beast revealed that Russians pushed an anti-immigration rally in Twin Falls on Facebook last August during the presidential election. The event was entitled, “Citizens before refugees,” and included the following language:
“Due to the town of Twin Falls, Idaho, becoming a center of refugee resettlement, which led to the huge upsurge of violence towards American citizens, it is crucial to draw society's attention to this problem...
“We must stop taking in Muslim refugees! We demand open and thorough investigation of all the cases regarding Muslim refugees! All government officials, who are covering up for these criminals, should be fired!”
It is unclear how many people, if any, attended the event. But, it is disturbing that a foreign government would try to manipulate the political environment in the Gem State. Facebook has indicated more than 20 million Americans saw Russian-created Facebook ads last year. Highly disturbing.
Idaho Supreme Court puts the squeeze on Pocatello. Justice Dan Eismann just retired from the Idaho Supreme Court after serving there for 16 years. He didn’t go out with a whimper.
His last major written decision involved a lawsuit by a mobile home park owner in Pocatello who demanded return of excess utility fees charged by the city. A state court had previously determined that Pocatello’s approach of marking up city utilities (above the cost of delivering such services) to generate revenue for its general fund was illegal. This property owner demanded a refund of his overpayments and lost in front of a district court judge.
Eismann and all four of his colleagues ruled that the property owner was entitled to a refund and directed the district court to revisit the issue consistent with its ruling.
That opens the floodgates for other property owners in Pocatello who are similarly situated. The question is how much is at issue. Published reports seem to show possible overcharges of between $4 million to $30 million. Those sums are not pocket change.
Other Idaho governments that have engaged in the same practice of using utility services to avoid raising taxes should be looking over their shoulder.
Health care advisory panel has plan to actually cut cost of Idaho health insurance. Last week Gov. Otter’s Health Care Advisory Panel, chaired by Dick Armstrong, former director of Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare, rolled out a proposal to tackle Idaho’s underserved populations and --- most important – potentially cut Idaho’s health insurance premiums.
The proposal has several elements, but the most relevant part would put certain Idahoans on Medicaid who today buy insurance on the Idaho health insurance exchange and who have severe medical problems (and incomes below certain thresholds). According to the panel, that population generates about 40% of claims paid while constituting only 2% of the enrollees.
By shifting their care to Medicaid, the panel believes that Idaho health care premiums would be cut by an astounding 20%. That is a huge savings and would save Idahoans millions per year. This proposal is worth a serious look by 2018 candidates and the Idaho Legislature.