Morning News: Local hospitals push back against Senate health care bill; president of black police union reacts to Tensing mistrial; Kasich website hacked with pro-ISIS messages

Nearly 700,000 Ohioans could lose health insurance under the Senate's plan, including 60,000 people in Hamilton County.

click to enlarge UC Health's University Hospital - UC
UC Health's University Hospital

Good morning all. Let’s do the news thing right this second.

Leaders at Cincinnati’s major hospitals are blasting a health care bill drafted by Republicans in the U.S. Senate that would repeal portions of former president Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. That bill would cost 22 million people their health insurance over the next decade, according to a report released yesterday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. That would include nearly 700,000 Ohioans, nearly 60,000 of them in Hamilton County who gained insurance under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.

Hospitals are concerned that all of those newly uninsured people would lead to rising hospital costs in terms of uncompensated care. Top brass at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, UC Health, which runs the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and other hospitals are asking employees to call their senators and other elected officials to voice opposition to the legislation. The bill is currently beleaguered in the Senate — no more than two Republicans can vote against the legislation, and at least four have expressed opposition to it, mostly on the grounds that it’s not conservative enough.

• The leader of the Sentinel Police Association, Cincinnati’s black police union, spoke out yesterday via social media about Friday’s announcement of another hung jury in the retrial of former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing. A jury deadlocked while trying the former officer on murder and manslaughter charges for the shooting death of unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose in July of 2015. Cincinnati Police officer Eddie Hawkins, who is president of the Sentinels, posted on Facebook that he was struggling to come to terms with that outcome.

As a Black Law Enforcement Officer, who works directly with the youth of our community, I find myself questioning the very system I have taken an oath to support,” he wrote. “Why is this officer not being held accountable for his actions? Clearly he exercised bad tactics, and bad tactics should not cause a person to lose their life. We challenge people in the communities to hold themselves accountable for their actions and we are no different? Why have twelve jurors not once but twice, who are considered our peers been unable to hold an individual accountable for their actions? Why is it that our community is divided in even understanding the importance of this trial and being upset, regardless of race?”

Speaking of that trial, Tensing’s defense attorney Stew Mathews claimed yesterday that a majority of the jury voted to acquit him. Mathews said that eight of the 12 jurors voted against murder charges, and seven voted against manslaughter, according to WCPO. That could influence Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters’ decision about going forward with another retrial for Tensing. Deters has said he will comment on the case this week.

• With traffic on the Brent Spence Bridge snarled for the next couple months thanks to construction causing lane closures and other headaches, some drivers are going old school: Use of the Anderson Ferry is up big time, with operators saying they're considering pressing all three of their boats into service to carry motorists across the Ohio River. The ferry has been in operation since 1817.

• After coming in third in Cincinnati’s mayoral primary earlier this year, former University of Cincinnati board chair and labor attorney Rob Richardson Jr. has thrown his hat in the ring for Ohio Treasurer in 2018. Richardson, whose mayoral bid was his first attempt at elected office, is vying for the statewide position currently held by Republican Josh Mandel, who is term-limited and challenging U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown for his Senate seat next year.

• Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s website was hacked Sunday and briefly featured messages touting the Islamic State. Kasich’s was one of several state websites, including the Department of Medicaid and the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, falling victim to hackers. All the sites were quickly taken down after the semi-coherent messages attributed to Team System DZ criticizing Trump and expressing love for ISIS appeared. Past hacking attacks have also been attributed to that group, though it’s not clear those attacks have direct connections to ISIS.

• Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine officially kicked off his campaign for governor this week, wading into a crowded GOP primary field that also includes Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci. DeWine is easily the most experienced of the bunch — since 1978, DeWine has served as a U.S. senator, lieutenant governor and a number of other elected positions in Ohio. But will that experience be a strength or a liability in an age when voters routinely elect outsiders and anti-elite rhetoric fills campaign ads across the country? Already, Renacci, a businessman from Akron, has cast DeWine, Husted and Taylor as “Columbus insiders” in his bid for the governor’s seat. Will GOP primary voters buy Renacci’s Trump-like pitch? Stay tuned.

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