Connecticut’s Hospital Tax Exploits Medicaid to Finance Irresponsible State Spending

Hartford is exploiting an anomaly in the Medicaid program to extract billions from the U.S. Treasury, not to finance health care, but rather to finance otherwise unaffordable state spending, primarily state employee health care and retirement benefits. This anomaly, or “shell game” (the term used in a U.S. Senate committee report) operates through the hospital tax. While all states impose this tax, no state imposes nearly as high a hospital tax rate. That’s what former Office of Policy and Management Director Ben Barnes told me in late 2017. He said Connecticut’s hospital tax scheme requires explicit federal approval, because the

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Opinion: Lessons of a Manure Pile

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that made their living as dairy and potato farmers. This meant lots of good old- fashioned farm work, but it also meant I could have a horse. That started a journey that lead me to the upper reaches of the equestrian world, but that is a story for another day Today I was out in the barn cleaning the stalls of my rescue horse “Wesley” and my miniature rescue donkey “Donkay Hoyate.” As I pushed the wheelbarrow out to the manure pile — I refer to this as wheelbarrow aerobics —

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Opinion: The Ongoing Game of Whack-a-Toll

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Highway tolls in Connecticut have become a game of whack-a-mole. Governor Lamont’s toll mole has popped up again, after having been whacked summarily by General Assembly leaders of his own party less than two weeks ago. The current mole is a variant of the Governor’s original trucks-only campaign proposal. Things have gone full circle. The whole toll mole game started with candidate Lamont’s vague trucks-only plan. Lamont whacked his own proposal after his inauguration, saying that truck tolls alone wouldn’t raise enough money. He added cars, and presented a sketchy 8-page plan with a smothering network of as many as

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Opinion: Vanishing Inequality, the Devil’s Greatest Trick

One of my favorite movies is the 1995 whodunit “The Usual Suspects.”  The last line of the film has always stuck with me: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”  This line originated in a book on Quakerism from 1834 in which John Wikinson wrote, “One of the artifices of Satan is, to induce men to believe that he does not exist.” Phil Gramm and John Early have apparently decided to ape this trick.  Their recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal includes “author’s calculations” implying that our country isn’t really very unequal

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Opinion: The Surprising Income Equality in America

This is a column about a column. On November 4, 2019, the Wall Street Journal published a column entitled “The Truth About Income Inequality,” by Phil Gramm, former U.S. Senator from Texas, and John Early, twice Assistant Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The column makes a convincing case that the U.S. enjoys remarkable income equality –  not inequality. This reality flies in the face of the almost universal belief that the U.S. suffers from gross income inequality, which notion serves as the foundation of all the extravagant proposals from one side of the political spectrum, ranging from

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Opinion: On Fixing Connecticut’s Budget

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Connecticut citizens wonder why the state can’t get its budget act together. Why is Connecticut’s infrastructure crumbling when improvements are supposed to be funded by the gas tax? Why can’t we get our heads — or budgets — around healthcare that works for everybody. Our public pensions are grossly underfunded. We’re backsliding when it comes to children and family welfare. All we ever hear is that our young entrepreneurs are leaving the state, and the cost of living continues to rise. All of this is significantly impacted by the way Connecticut budgets. In my 18 years in the General Assembly

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Ferdinand the Bull and Lyme Academy of Fine Arts

We have become addicted to immediate gratification. We want greater rewards with less work. We see that attitude in a stock market driven by traders focused on every move by the Federal Reserve, while fundamental research has been relegated to the back burner. We see it in the news where every mis-step by a politician is recorded on the front page, while little attention is paid to the longer-term consequences of his or her policies. We see it in a decline in community volunteerism. In Old Lyme, we risk losing a cherished institution that is the Lyme Academy of Fine

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On the Trail with Jonnie Edwards

This is really a story about what happened when Patty met Jonnie—that special combustion of personality, a desire to help others, that resulted in a unique therapeutic program called The Next Step. I am here to find out more about what The Next Step is all about.

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