It was not meant to be.
Norfolk did our part. Thanks to all the Norfolk staff and volunteers.
Norfolk: Bloxom - 47.59%; Randall - 51.95%
Total results: Bloxom - 60.03%, Randall - 39.61%
Thank you Willie Randall.
The winner: Rob Bloxom
The loser: Medicaid expansion
By Ralph Northam, February, 25th, 2014
Over the past few months, a lot has been said about the need to provide health care to the commonwealth's most hard-working and vulnerable citizens.
As both a practicing physician and a policymaker, my support for Medicaid expansion is no secret. It is a simple fact that one's quality of life significantly improves with access to affordable health care.
Imagine your child had a fever of 105 and was not able to be seen by a provider, or that you had to decide between paying rent and refilling a life-saving prescription. Hundreds of thousands of working Virginians make these choices on a daily basis.
I emphasize the word "working" because 70 percent of Virginians without insurance have at least one working member in their household. Closing the coverage gap is not a handout. It is intended for hard-working Virginians who don't otherwise have access to health insurance.
As a physician, I am troubled by the fact that your economic status so greatly determines your ability to access and the quality of your health care. As a parent, I am heartbroken knowing that mothers and fathers throughout the state are making choices between putting food on the table for their kids and paying for their basic health care each month.
The children I see at my practice are fortunate, but there are too many others in similar situations who don't have access to insurance through employers, cannot afford care out of pocket and don't have access to charity care.
As a business owner, I cannot fathom giving $5 million, per day, to competing businesses. But in this case, that's exactly what we are doing if we don't expand Medicaid. We are sending Virginia's tax dollars to our neighboring states so they can improve the health, well-being and productivity of their own students and workers.
Instead, we should be doing all we can to reinvest those tax dollars in our own communities. To be clear, these are tax dollars that the people of Virginia will continue to pay whether or not Virginia ever draws down our share from the federal government.
Meanwhile, our hospitals are struggling to close their financial gaps, when we could be creating tens of thousands of new jobs in the health care field. These are quality jobs that would help boost local economies and ultimately generate more revenue for the state.
Finally, as a veteran of the U.S. Army, I am incredibly frustrated that many of my fellow veterans fall into the coverage gap and don't have access to affordable health care, despite their service to our great nation.
Contrary to popular belief, in Virginia there are more than 30,000 veterans who don't have health insurance. These men and women risked their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq for our freedom, and now work in the private sector earning minimum wage, live under the poverty line and are not able to afford health care coverage for themselves or their families.
The least we can do for these brave individuals, many with serious medical conditions, is ensure that they and their families have access to affordable and quality health care.
If you refer to yourself as a patriot, profess to have good business sense, describe yourself as a well-intended person having compassion for your fellow man, or all of the above, I strongly encourage you to discuss favorably with your delegate and senator the benefits of expanding health care to the nearly 400,000 working Virginians currently in the coverage gap.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that "of all the forms of injustice, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane." In his speech at the March on Washington, he called on America to recognize "the fierce urgency of now."
Now is the time for Virginia to put politics and partisanship aside and to responsibly provide coverage to those in need as soon as possible. The health of our neighbors, children, and veterans depends on it.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel renewed his warning to Congress on Monday that shrinking defense budgets mean a smaller military and cuts to popular programs — but that a return to sequestration would be even worse.
Previewing the Pentagon’s fiscal 2015 budget submission being delivered to Congress next week, the defense secretary put the needle back on a broken record of debate over base closures, ship and aircraft disposals, weapons program cancellations and cuts to troop pay and benefits.
Hagel and the Defense Department are sticking by their position that the U.S. needs a smaller, high-tech military as opposed to a larger but less modern force. He urged Congress to go along. It may be unpleasant, he said, but more gridlock and more sequestration would hurt even more.
“Our recommendations beyond fiscal year 2015 provide a realistic alternative to sequestration-level cuts, sustaining adequate readiness and modernization most relevant to strategic priorities over the long-term,” he said in remarks prepared for a Pentagon press briefing. “But this can only be achieved by the strategic balance of reforms and reductions the president and I will present to the Congress. This will require Congress to partner with the Department of Defense in making politically difficult choices.”
The proposal amounts to a roll of the dice in a midterm election year, when defense advocates in both parties and in both the House And Senate will be loathe to close bases, idle factories or open themselves to accusations they cut pay or benefits for troops and their families. Moreover, Congress has already rejected many of the requests the Pentagon plans to make. Shipbuilding advocates balked, for example, the last time the Navy asked to decommission a batch of surface warships, and restored them to the fleet.
A senior defense official who briefed reporters separately acknowledged the political challenges for repeating these kinds of proposals, saying that ultimately, all the Pentagon can do is ask.
“I hope that they will be partners with us and listen,” the official said, referring to Congress.
But Republicans especially may want to delay any serious defense reforms until after November’s election, which they believe offers them the chance to seize control of the full Congress.
Just the same, Hagel again asked for a new round of base closures, starting in 2017. He also is requesting to dispose of the Air Force’s entire fleet of A-10 Warthog attack jets; mothball a batch of Navy cruisers and curtail its Littoral Combat Ship program; and reduce the subsidy for troop commissaries.
The Army would cancel its Ground Combat Vehicle. The Pentagon would transfer all the Army’s AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the active component, away from the National Guard and Reserve, and cut the overall active Army to about 450,000 troops – from its Iraq War peak of 570,000. And the active Army would transfer some of its Black Hawk utility helicopters to the Guard and Reserve.
There are some silver linings for the defense establishment. The Pentagon appears to have left mostly intact major programs such as the F-35 Lightning II, the Air Force’s new bomber and KC-46A Pegasus tanker. It plans to spend about $1 billion on new jet engine research. Hagel said he wants the Navy to begin developing a new frigate to take the place of the Littoral Combat Ships cut from the latter portion of the program. The military services also would add about 3,000 special operations troops.
If Congress doesn’t like it, Hagel said, it should try sequestration. If lawmakers permit the automatic spending restrictions to fall back into place as they would in 2016 under current law, the Air Force would also lose all of its KC-10 Extender tankers, its Block 40-model Global Hawk drones and slow purchases of its F-35A. The Navy would lose more ships – including an aircraft carrier — and delay its F-35C. And so on.
Hagel said he appreciates the difficulty involved with the reductions the Pentagon is proposing in its fiscal 2015 submission, but he said the U.S. could continue to be the leading world power and “defeat any aggressor.”
Not so if Congress permits sequestration to return, however.
“We can manage these anticipated risks under the president’s budget plan, but they would grow significantly if sequester-level cuts return in fiscal year 2016, if our reforms are not accepted, or if uncertainty on budget levels continues,” Hagel said in his prepared remarks. “As I’ve made clear, the scale and timeline of continued sequestration-level cuts would require greater reductions in the military’s size, reach and margin of technological superiority. Under sequestration spending levels, we would be gambling that our military will not be required to respond to multiple major contingencies at the same time.”
Saturday, March 1st, 2014
Piccadilly Cafeteria - Just $8.15 (includes tax)
530 North Military Hwy - Norfolk