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Stop playing around, Congress still has work to do

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In normal times, this is a busy week for Congress. Obviously, we’re not in normal times, but that doesn’t change the fact that Congress has end-of-fiscal-year funding issues to deal with.

Two of the major issues are funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and authorizations for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and community health center. These expire on Sep. 30, this Saturday.

The Senate will be tied up with amendments and debate on the now-doomed Graham-Cassidy health care proposal, leaving precious little time for necessary items that require some kind of bipartisan effort. In its usual kick-the-can-down-the-road approach, the full House has scheduled a skinny six-month extension for the FAA authorization. Despite approval by both the Senate Commerce and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committees, this could come down to the wire.

CHIP is a harder problem to crack. Since it’s a Medicaid-related program, it’s stuck in the health care vortex, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee hasn’t even approved a markup for the full House to vote on. The bipartisan effort led by Sens. Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden to renew CHIP for five years is stalled in committee. Any renewal will likely be retroactive after funding expires on Saturday, unless the Senate somehow catches up on its homework.

The same with $3.6 billion in federal funding for community health centers.

It doesn’t help that the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, begins on Sep. 29, ending at sunset on Sep. 30. Observant Jewish members of Congress won’t be able to participate in last minute discussions and votes.

Perspectives

CHIP, FAA Face Deadlines This Week | Joe Williams, Roll Call

http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/chip-faa-face-deadlines-this-week?utm_source=rollcallheadlines&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletters&utm_source=rollcallheadlines&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newslettersWith the Republicans’ last-gasp effort to undo the 2010 health care law fizzling, Congress may now try to pass short-term extensions to avoid running aground on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Aviation Administration and community health centers, authorizations for which expire at the end of the month.

Repeal-Replace Effort Leaves Other Health Measures Hanging | Medpage Today

https://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/repeal-and-replace/68107“In Nevada, CHIP provides coverage for roughly 25,000 children,” said Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). “Nevada has made great strides in improving its uninsured rate … My hope is that Congress will act swiftly … to give families in Nevada and across the country the certainty they need with regard to children’s healthcare.”

“We know that before CHIP was created, millions of hardworking families couldn’t take their children to the doctor and get them the care they needed,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). In that state, 97% of children can go to the doctor.

Catholic poverty advocates fear children’s insurance program could be cancelled | Heidi Schumpf, National Catholic Reporter

https://www.ncronline.org/news/justice/catholic-poverty-advocates-fear-childrens-insurance-program-could-be-cancelledThe Children’s Health Insurance Program “is as American as apple pie,” said Lucas Allen, a healthcare fellow at NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobbying organization. “We support these kinds of bipartisan compromises that are too rare in our health care debate right now.”

Congress to Consider Six-Month FAA Extension

http://www.aviationnews.net/index.cfm?do=headline&news_ID=268448The House is expected to pass the new extension next Monday or Tuesday, and the Senate is expected to clear it before the current stopgap measure expires on September 30. Another short-term FAA extension will give lawmakers more time to work on a comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill. That legislation has been held up over Shuster’s controversial proposal to corporatize the Air Traffic Control system.

My Turn: Fix health center funding cliff | Tess Stack Kuenning, Concord Monitor

http://www.concordmonitor.com/Fix-the-funding-cliff-12675056Community health centers in New Hampshire and across the nation are at tremendous risk. Without Congress’s action by Sept. 30, health center funding will immediately be cut by 70 percent.

In New Hampshire, 12 federally funded health centers provide primary care, substance use disorder treatment, oral health services and behavioral health services to over 89,000 citizens in underserved areas.

Granite Staters will lose access to health care services when we need them the most, in the midst of an opioid epidemic, if the funding cliff isn’t fixed.

“Distracted” Lawmakers Overlook Clinic, Children’s Health Bills | Rose Hoban, North Carolina Health News

https://www.northcarolinahealthnews.org/2017/09/25/distracted-lawmakers-overlook-clinic-childrens-health-bills/“So, losing 1.1 million equates to us not being able to see about 1,000 patients a year,” Schwartz said. “I’m immediately on a hiring freeze, won’t be able to replace or likely may have to reduce staffing.”

“We try to get our federal funding down, but there are many health centers… that are truly seeing 60, 70, 80 percent sliding fee patients,” she said, noting for many of those centers, the grant funding represents as much as 50 percent of their annual revenue.

Final Thoughts

Congress needs to button down and get out of its political rabbit hole. The Graham-Cassidy bill is essentially dead, so why is the Senate spending time on it when other items require immediate attention? The FAA and community health centers are really top-level needs that serve national priorities. As for CHIP, without an Obamacare replacement (a real one), I don’t see how we can avoid renewing it.

For Congress to miss these no-brainers in favor of political grandstanding is why many Americans have so little faith in our political system.

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Entertainment and Sports

Harden scores 48 points, Rockets beat Lakers 138-134 in OT

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Harden scores 48 points Rockets beat Lakers 138-134 in OT

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden was the star for the Houston Rockets as usual on Saturday night, but he and the team got a big boost from Eric Gordon in his second game back after recovering from a bruised knee.

Harden scored 48 points, Gordon added 30 and the Rockets overcame a 21-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 138-134 in overtime.

The Rockets trailed for most of the night and were down by 18 in the second-half. Gordon sent it to overtime with a 3-pointer, and made four free throws in the last seconds of the extra period.

“He’s playing unbelievable,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of Gordon.

Coming off 57- and 58-point games, Harden had his 19th straight game with at least 30 and he’s had 40 in 10 of the last 13. He was 14 of 30 from the field, going 8 of 19 on 3-pointers, and hit 12 of 15 free throws.

Harden was asked if Gordon being back after missing eight games before his return on Wednesday night eased the burden on him a little bit.

“A little bit? It takes a lot of burden off me,” Harden said. “He’s so offensively gifted and talented being able to shoot the basketball, being able to get to the rim, being able to make plays for others. You get a guy like that on the floor with you it makes it easier for not only myself but for everybody.”

Brandon Ingram missed a 3 for Los Angeles before Harden hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 132-130 with less than a minute left. Ingram tied it with a basket, and Harden again made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 133-132.

Los Angeles missed a 3 before Gordon also made just 1 of 2 free throws to leave Houston up by two with 12.6 seconds left. Kyle Kuzma lost the ball and it went out of bounds to give Houston the ball back. Gordon added four free throws after that to secure the victory.

It was the second straight overtime game for both teams after Houston lost to Brooklyn on Wednesday night and Los Angeles beat Oklahoma City on Thursday night.

Kuzma had 32 points for Los Angeles and Ingram added 21 in a game where coach Luke Walton was ejected in the third quarter.

Already without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers have another injury concern after Lonzo Ball sprained his left ankle in the third quarter. Walton said his X-rays were negative but that he’d have an MRI and “we’ll see where we are after that.”

Four straight points by the Lakers stretched the lead to nine in the fourth quarter, but Harden and Gordon made consecutive 3-pointers cut it to 112-109 with about two minutes remaining.

Los Angeles made four free throws to make it 116-109 about a minute later, but Harden made two 3-pointers around a basket by Ivica Zubac to get Houston within three with about 30 seconds left.

Lance Stephenson missed a 3-pointer and Harden made two free throws to cut the lead to 118-117 with 5.7 seconds left.

Zubac made two more free throws before Gordon’s off-balance 3-pointer with 2 seconds left sent it to OT.

“I saw Kentavious Caldwell-Pope running out to me and I thought he was going to fly right by me, but he stood right there,” Gordon said. “So I had to try to shoot it with confidence and I’m glad it went in.”

The Lakers built a huge lead early and were up 64-46 at halftime, with Kuzma scoring 24 points.

They were ahead by 17 with about eight minutes left in the third quarter after scoring five straight points capped by a basket from Kuzma before Houston scored the next 15 points to cut it to 74-72 three minutes later. James Ennis had five points in that stretch and P.J. Tucker capped it with a 3-pointer.

Ball was injured just before Houston’s run began. He remained on the court for a couple of minutes talking with trainer’s before he was helped to his feet where he hopped on his right foot for a few steps before being carried off the court and to the locker room by Stephenson and Michael Beasley.

Walton was ejected a couple of minutes after that when he got two technical fouls after yelling at officials during a timeout.

Ingram pointed to losing Ball as when things started to get away from the Lakers.

“Right when Lonzo went out,” he said. “That’s exactly when it went away. We lost momentum a little bit.”

TIP-INS

Lakers: James was out for the 13th straight game with a strained left groin and did not make the trip. … Stephenson finished with 16 points.

Rockets: Harden also had eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. … Ennis returned after missing Wednesday’s game after cutting his left leg in a fall at his house. … Chris Paul missed his 14th game in a row with a strained left hamstring … Clint Capela had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.

THEY SAID IT

D’Antoni on Houston’s comeback: “Words don’t do it. That was just our guys showing a lot of heart.”

UP NEXT

Lakers: Host Golden State on Monday night.

Rockets: Visit Philadelphia on Monday night.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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Democrats

Pirro: Democrats putting politics over people

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Pirro Democrats putting politics over people

Following President Trump’s speech to America with his compromise offer to Democrats to secure the border and end the government shutdown, Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro was in rare form as she went after Democrats for instantly rejecting the proposal. Her biggest target was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The President has requested funds in order to build a small portion of the border wall, render humanitarian assistance, improve drug detection technology, and hire 2,750 additional border patrol agents and 75 immigration judge teams. In exchange, he’s offering three years of extended protection for DACA recipients and those with Temporary Protected Status.

Here was her response:

My Take

There are many conservatives who are against the proposal. Under normal circumstances, I would be as well. But we’re approaching a full month of the government shutdown. Enough is enough.


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Entertainment and Sports

‘Unsolved Mysteries’ is coming back, only ‘Stranger’

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Unsolved Mysteries is coming back only Stranger

Robert Stack brought us over 500 Unsolved Mysteries episodes from 1987 to 2010 across three networks. Apparently, that’s not enough, and now the executive producer of Stranger Things wants a shot at rebooting the iconic television show for Netflix.

Netflix Reboots ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ With ‘Stranger Things’ Shawn Levy

https://deadline.com/2019/01/netflix-unsolved-mysteries-shawn-levy-1202537462/The series, which was hosted by Robert Stack and ran for over 500 episodes between 1987 and 2010, is being refreshed by Stranger Things EP Shawn Levy and his company 21 Laps Entertainment and Netflix.

The 12-part show will use re-enactments in a documentary format to profile real-life mysteries and unsolved crimes, lost love, cases involving missing persons and unexplained paranormal events. Each episode will focus on one mystery. In the original series, actors played the victims, criminals and witnesses but family members and police were regularly interviewed.

My Take

This is one of those shows that really doesn’t have a conclusion. It could conceivably go on indefinitely because there are always new and interesting mysteries to be solved. Since each one has its own spin and attachment to reality, there’s no need to worry about fatigue.

Some shows need to be buried forever. Others have a valid reason to keep going and get a reboot. Unsolved Mysteries falls in the latter category.


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