Morning News: Cranley says higher turnout will sway general election for him; Planned Parenthood sues to avoid closure of last abortion clinic in Kentucky; Kasich blasts AHCA vote

Mayor John Cranley points to low primary turnout in some of the city’s most populous West Side neighborhoods that favored him heavily in 2013 as one reason for his primary defeat.

Mayor John Cranley (right) with City Manager Harry Black. - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Mayor John Cranley (right) with City Manager Harry Black.

Hello all. Here’s some news for you as we rush toward the weekend.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley says November’s general election will be different than Tuesdays’ mayoral primary, when Councilwoman Yvette Simpson handed him a big 10-point defeat. In an interview with the Cincinnati Business Courier yesterday, Cranley pointed to low turnout in some of the city’s most populous West Side neighborhoods — East and West Price Hill, Westwood and others — that favored him heavily in 2013. He may need to put in some extra effort this time around, though. The more conservative voters Cranley is courting in those areas and others weren’t too happy about his January move declaring Cincinnati a sanctuary city. Cranley has also pledged to up his ground game ahead of the general election. Meanwhile, Simpson’s victory gives her new momentum heading into November — and could buoy her fundraising efforts. Thus far, she trails Cranley’s record-setting $1.2 million campaign haul by a big margin.

• A federal grand jury has indicted the suspended deputy chief of staff at Cincinnati’s Veterans Affairs hospital on felony drug charges. Dr. Barbara Temeck faces the three charges for writing inappropriate prescriptions to friend and former VA nurse Kathleen Hetrick in 2012 and 2013. Temeck’s suspension last month and subsequent federal charges come amid tension at the VA, where employees reported the high-ranking administrator for what they said was “a culture of intimidation.” Temeck was filing her own reports about what she says is an inappropriate relationship between the VA and UC Health, which Temeck says uses VA staff and bills VA for procedures unnecessarily. Temeck, a 35-year employee of the VA, says she was unaware her license did not allow her to prescribe drugs to non-veterans, and that she’s being pushed out of the VA for whistleblowing against corruption there.

• Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is joining a federal lawsuit filed by Kentucky’s last remaining abortion clinic in Louisville, which faces closure over new state licensure requirements. The lawsuit against Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin charges that Bevin and GOP lawmakers are seeking to use “any means necessary” to clear the state of clinics where women can get abortions, and that current state laws regarding clinics are unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade. Those laws requiring transfer agreements with nearby hospitals are similar to laws on the books in Ohio.

• Let’s get right to the big news of the week, and maybe the year. Yesterday, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with something called the American Health Care Act. The bill effectively ends protections for health care consumers with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to apply for exemptions to rules requiring coverage of those conditions and letting insurers in those states charge higher rates to customers with those conditions. A last-minute amendment to the bill carves out money to ease patients off the current system, a concession to get more moderate Republicans on board. The bill also ends tax credits to low-income consumers purchasing health insurance and instead doles out credits to consumers by age, regardless of income, hurting many low-income consumers. Finally, the bill caps enrollment in the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, prohibiting new enrollees in that program. Some 700,000 Ohioans are covered by the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.

Republicans didn’t wait for an analysis on the bill from the Congressional Budget Office that would have revealed how much it will cost and how many people it would insure, an unconventional move. A less-severe version of the AHCA lawmakers tried and failed to pass earlier this year would have cost as many as 24 million Americans their health insurance by 2026, however.

• As you might expect, the bill is very controversial. House Republicans needed 216 votes from members of their own party to pass the bill — they got just 217, with 20 GOPers voting against it. All Democrats in the House opposed the bill as well, as did almost every major medical industry, healthcare provider and patient advocacy group. But every Cincinnati-area representative, including Cincinnati’s Brad Wenstrup and Steve Chabot, voted yes on the bill that will likely cost millions their health coverage. There was one exception — U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie of Northern Kentucky, who voted against the bill because it doesn’t go far enough in repealing the ACA.

Among critics of the bill — Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who fought his own party in the State House to expand Medicaid in Ohio back in 2013. Kasich says the bill falls “woefully short” on helping the nation’s most vulnerable.

Next, the AHCA heads to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future. Republicans hold a 52-seat majority in that body, and will be voting under budgetary consideration rules that foreclose the possibility of a filibuster by Democrats. But some GOP senators, including Ohio’s Rob Portman, are opposed to the bill in its current form.

“I’ve already made clear that I don’t support the House bill as currently constructed because I continue to have concerns that this bill does not do enough to protect Ohio’s Medicaid expansion population,” Portman said in a statement following the House vote, “especially those who are receiving treatment for heroin and prescription drug abuse.”

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