RICHMOND, VA – Newly released figures from Virginia Health Information (VHI), the agency that gathers and reports health care data in the Commonwealth, yet again confirm the fact that many local hospitals across the state continue to struggle financially.
The numbers show that 27 percent of Virginia’s acute care, critical access, and children’s hospitals, and more than 43 percent of rural hospitals, operated in the red during 2015.
Those figures indicate a slight increase from 2014 data showing roughly 25 percent of overall hospitals, and 42 percent of rural hospitals, with negative operating margins. Data from the past two years reflect the continuation of a pattern consistently evid
Rick Boucher and Morgan Griffith finish debate with a handshake.
This was the first time 28-year incumbent Congressman Rick Boucher and Virginia Republican Delegate Morgan Griffith have met in person. The 9th congressional district is considered safe for Boucher but this election he has his hands full. Negative ads fill the airwaves.
Thursday night Griffith was at the WSLS Channel 10 studio more than an hour before airtime. It was 10 minutes to airtime and no Boucher and the staff was hitting the phone trying to locate him. Just as they were making another call Boucher walks in and the tension subsides.
The AP photographer is asking for WIFI and a reporter from the Bristol Herald walks in after being lost roaming around in Vinton she says.
If you have ever watched the movie “Overboard” then you’ll remember the line “It’s a helluva day at sea, sir” and that about sums up the prep before airtime. Jay Warren, moderator was on the air so he was unaware of the goings on … a good thing too.
First topic up was balancing the budget and extending the Bush tax cuts. They both favored that though Boucher had a twist. <Noting that Griffith took notes throughout the debate and Boucher did not touch his pen and pad>
How to pay for a balanced budget:
Griffith said, “take the regulatory scheme off the backs of businesses.” This would encourage businesses to come back and expand in the U.S. Revenues will increase without raising taxes according to Griffith. He suggested rolling back congressional pay and other perks as a way to reduce spending.
Griffith had a dig at Boucher here – “so Mr. Boucher doesn’t get a car paid by taxpayer expense.” He wasn’t for bringing the troops out of Iraq just yet as he thought the Iraqi troops were not yet prepared to handle the country by themselves.
Boucher said, “extend the tax cuts for a limited period perhaps for two years.” During an economic recovery period the last thing you want to do is raise taxes on anyone he declared. Boucher advocated bringing noncombat troops home from Iraq as a way to reduce spending.
Boucher did not want to take spending decisions out of the hands of Congress and put it in the hands of the Department of Management and Budget. “They are not elected officials … we know more about our districts and what the core needs are,” said Boucher. He wants a commission that would report back to Congress on what it would take to balance the budget. “Then take an up or down vote in the house and the senate on the entire package of recommendations,” said Boucher. “No amendments and no changes” he added.
Jay Warren asked if the commission recommended raising taxes would you agree?
Boucher said he would consider it as long as expenditure cuts equally balanced with the increase in taxes. Griffith said, “Boucher has had 28 years to make that happen.” He wants to cede control of the budget to a commission. Boucher objected profusely and went on to talk about closing military bases as a cost cutting measure.
Boucher got a zinger in saying, “we were balancing [the budget] until 2001 when the administration of my opponent’s party came into office.” Budget deficits followed concluded Boucher.
On social security (entitlement) Griffith’s solution was to eliminate fraud and waste. Boucher said the trust fund for social security is in sound condition until 2040.
Cap and Trade was the next topic:
Democratic Congressman Nick Rahall voted against Cap and Trade saying it would cost coal jobs and raise energy rates. Boucher said his Democratic colleague was wrong. Boucher explained the need to reduce greenhouse gases and that the Environmental Protection Agency was getting ready to regulate. “The EPA does not have the tools to protect coal and coal miners and to protect our coal economy and protect our electricity consumers,” said Boucher. He said that coal leaders came to him and asked that he negotiate for them. All the utilities endorsed the policy once he made changes to protect them.
Griffith said, “absolutely I disagree with it – Governor Manchin (Joe Manchin Governor of West Virginia a Democrat) put that bill up on a tree and shot the thing.” He added that electric rates would “go through the roof … kill coal jobs … kill manufacturing jobs.”
They shook hands and it was over. Boucher wouldn’t reveal what they talked about during the break but he made clear he had “no doubt whatsoever” that the 9th District would remain his. <See my questions to Boucher and Griffith on healthcare afterwards> Morgan Griffith’s PRESS RELEASE AFERWARDS.