Oh Snap Monday. Sleeping Late Edition.

Humana spent $683,074 last year to lobby on children’s health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, generic drugs, prescription drug prices, national defense legislation and other issues, according to the U.S. Senate’s lobbying disclosure database. [Business First]

Basically, the legislature is falling apart and there’s like zero leadership. Woah. Imagine that. Cat fights over gambling galore. [H-L]

Once again our so called leaders in Frankfort demonstrate their ability to see as far as the next election. This like other issues could be dealt with if the Governor and General Assembly had the vision and intestinal fortitude to actually address the nineteenth century tax laws the Commonwealth currently operates under. [Ralph Long]

Barack Osama is president of Kentucky, Ron Paul is vice president. For reals. So, does this mean Kentucky really isn’t as backwater, redneck, hate-filled and ignorant as the rest of the country believes? Is it possible our people were only momentarily swayed by Bush ignorance and gay-baiting? Garsh. [H-L]

Mark Hebert turns into a teenage girl and nearly causes us to choke on our breakfast in laughter. “Lisa wanted to check it out so that’s what she got for her birthday, a night at West Baden. Omigod. That’s my teenage kids’ lingo for Oh my God! This place is unbelievable!” Hahahaha. OMG. We can’t breathe. Hahahaha. [Hebert]

Another Fletcher Scandal Brewing

Right-wingers everywhere are screaming “hit piece” over the latest news about the former scandal-plagued governor.

The Eastern Kentucky hospital that has hired former Gov. Ernie Fletcher as a consultant got a $3.4 million state settlement in the final weeks of the Fletcher administration for disputed Medicaid claims.

Records from the state Department for Medicaid Services show that last Oct. 9, the state agreed to pay $3,446,836 in exchange for Pikeville Medical Center dropping its claims for additional reimbursement.

Although 45 hospitals have made similar claims against the state, it was the only settlement reached late in the Fletcher administration and one of only two last year.

Turns out the hospital Ernie Fletcher got hired up by received a trillion zillion dollar payment in the form of a rare Medicaid settlement.

Fletcher supporters are up in arms, claiming the Courier-Journal has it out for Ernest Lee. That’s fine and all. But this has more than an appearance of impropriety now that Fletcher’s Secretary of Health & Family Services is afraid to talk.

More after the jump…

Read moreAnother Fletcher Scandal Brewing

Ernest Lee Goes to Camp

Or, Ernie Fletcher has a new job.

That’s right, kids! Former Governor Ernie Fletcher has a new job as a consultant for Pikeville Medical Center.

Ernie’s new job will entail completing a comprehensive review of the entire hospital’s medical residency program (yay eastern Kentucky!) and will most likely be set to overhaul the staff’s wellness program. Perfect for the former governor.

“I’m very interested in improving the health and well-being of the people of eastern Kentucky,” Fletcher said in a written statement. He said he is “grateful for the opportunity” to use his medical experience to do that.

We’re glad to see Ernie back in the saddle and hopefully taking steps forward to revive his once great reputation. He has an opportunity before him that no other (recent) former governor has and that’s to really get involved in changing his community for the better.

Cassaro Takes Advantage of Louisville’s West End

Michael Cassaro, apparently at turncoat Ted Shlechter’s (he supported Andrew Horne until he couldn’t get paid, then supported Greg Fischer until he couldn’t get paid – woops) urging, took unknowing advantage of a health care summit in Louisville’s poor West End. Literally turned the event sponsored by the West Chestnut Street Baptist Church and Norton Cancer Institute into a campaign event.

Here’s what he had to say after giving Lt. Gov. Dr. Daniel Mongiardo some sort of award (no idea what it was for, someone doesn’t know that press releases should, you know, contain info):

“Most of us are not getting our money’s worth from our health care system,” observed Dr. Cassaro. “As your U.S Senator, I will propose real health care reform and not the band-aid approach supported by the major presidential candidates.”

Seriously. At a health care summit. He had the gall to talk about how awesome he’ll be as a senator and then put out a press release about it.

Dr. Cassaro is a good guy. Surely he can find someone to help prevent embarrassing situations like this in the future.

Could Budget Cuts Result in Deaths?

In a flash of reality, the Herald-Leader’s Sarah Vos has begun to wake Kentuckians up to the nightmare they face. While most are aware of looming educational budget cuts and the inevitable degradation of services we have come to expect, things like health care and assistance for those less fortunate take position on the back burner. It’s those very things that are on their way to hell here in the Bluegrass.

Cabinet officials painted a bleak picture of the Health and Human Services budget Wednesday, telling lawmakers that cuts proposed by Gov. Steve Beshear would lead to fewer Meals on Wheels and elimination of programs at the state’s 14 community mental health centers.

The cuts discussed Wednesday will destroy some programs and leave people without places to go, Rep. Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown, said after the hearing.

“We can’t take these individuals and put them in storage,” he said. “If they don’t receive these services, some of them will actually die.”

Meals on Wheels is screwed, mental health centers are suffering and people could literally die. Gloom and doom, sure, but it’s a reality we all need to face. Instead of screwing around in Frankfort all session long, maybe our legislators could try to, you know, do something other than argue about gambling. And maybe Governor Steve Beshear could show some leadership in solving the budget crisis by working with said legislature to avoid serious cuts. But we’re not holding our breath.

Almost Ready to See Our Shadow Update

Millionaires who hate Democrats and the Democrats who love them. Imagine that. A non-Page One blogger dishing the dirt. They’re moments away from receiving the wrath of those opposed to the truth. Beware. [Yellow Dog via BGR]

Scrapping the run-off? The house has joined the senate with a bill to get rid of the headache Kentucky almost faced in 2007. Almost no one believes a run-off is necessary. Insane that we had the provision in the first place. [PolWatchers]

Ben Chandler and Ernesto Scorsone hate America. The two opposites of Jim Gooch were part of a forum on global warming held at the University of Kentucky yesterday. [H-L]

Pay for play politics? Surely you jest! Beshear appointed John Paul Chappell to a district judgeship just days after he gave Scott Alexander $200 for the 30th district senate race. Just a coincidence? No clue. You decide. We just hope a judgeship would sell for a lot more than $200 if that’s what’s going on. [PolWatchers]

70-cent cigarette tax proposed (instead of 30-cents that’s hot discussion these days) to ease budget constraints. Kudos to the legislature for this move! Not only would Kentucky benefit financially, but overall health would improve tremendously as Ernie Fletcher has repeatedly said. Goodbye, teen smoking! [Courier-Journal]

Delving into the political nightmares of both the Democratic and Republican parties of recent days.  Both Ron Lewis and Steve Beshear are causing drama. [Hebert]

And in case you missed our fuming a couple days ago, get up-to-date on the state domestic partner benefits ban. Welcome to the 19th century, Kentucky! [H-L]

Kentucky’s Young People Struggle for Health Care

Joanna Richards, a real gem of a journalist at the C-J’s Velocity (yeah, we know), tells the story of several young people in Kentucky who live the daily nightmare of struggling to obtain much needed health care.

From previously healthy individuals who need emergency care to those fresh out of college with no way to obtain traditional care, it’s a sobering look at (part of) what’s wrong with the system. A saddening reality that it’s (surprise) not just the poor who struggle.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 29 percent of people between 18 and 24 were uninsured in 2006, with the number declining only slightly — to 27 percent — among Americans between 25 and 34.

By comparison, the number was 15.8 percent for Americans as a whole.

What do those numbers really mean?

People interviewed for this article told of roving from one immediate care center to another and not paying bills, sneaking out of the ER before they could be billed, knowingly writing bad checks to obtain treatment, self-medicating with herbs (both legal and not), substituting alternative methods for regular medical treatment, drinking fruit juice to try to stay healthy and lying about their income and savings to obtain cheaper care. And many people simply “tough out” an illness or injury in fear of huge bills.