The Chatter: AG candidates battle over hospital merger, Beshear gets snubbed and raising the (debt) roof

07/27/2011 02:00 PM

Republican Attorney General candidate Todd P’Pool is turning his attention to more local issues in his race against Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, after weeks of railing on the Environmental Protection Agency and President Barack Obama.

P’Pool, the Hopkins County attorney, took his opponent to task for focusing too much on health coverage issues that could arise thanks to a merger between University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish and St. Mary’s Healthcare and Catholic Health Initiatives in Kentucky.

Instead, P’Pool said Conway should be talking about fiscal issues the merger would create, since U of L Hospital is tax-payer funded.

“As Attorney General, I’ll be on the lookout for our taxpayers to make sure we protect a state-owned asset worth more than $100 million dollars,” P’Pool said in a news release. “Is Jack Conway even concerned about the fact that a Denver-based, for-profit company is going to hold a 70% stake in a not-for-profit University hospital after this merger is completed?”

In response, the Conway campaign told P’Pool’s campaign to “get the facts straight.” Melissa Wideman, Conway’s campaign manager, corrected the P’Pool campaign by saying CHI is a national nonprofit health organization, not “for-profit.”

And she said that Conway has said he was committed to protecting the taxpayer’s money while looking at the merger.

“It is a shame that Mr. P’Pool is trying to mischaracterize Attorney General Jack Conway,” Wideman said in a statement. “Instead of off based political attacks Mr. P’Pool ought to learn the facts and understand the law before commenting. That is a necessary requirement for an Attorney General and Mr. P’Pool continues to fail that basic test.”

Conway announced last week that he would look into the merger after reports of issues with health coverage that would conflict with Catholic doctrine, which will be in use by all hospitals after the merger.

It’s the first state-based attack P’Pool’s campaign has launched on Conway. P’pool has often criticized the current attorney general for not joining other attorneys general in a lawsuit against health care reform and for not fighting the EPA.

In a Courier-Journal story , Conway said today that the merger will be subject to state review.

Who snubbed who?

It was widely assumed that Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear had ignored his fellow Democrat, President Obama, when the president made a May trip to Fort Campbell this year.

Editorial boards and Republicans were quick to criticize Beshear for supposedly putting politics before honoring the military.

But according to the Associated Press, Beshear was never invited to appear with Obama. Instead of snubbing the president, the governor was on the receiving end of a snub, the AP reports .

In a e-mailed statement, one of Beshear’s general election opponents, Republican David Williams, accused the governor of lying.

“There’s no other way to look at this than Beshear has been caught lying in an cynical effort to gain favor with Kentucky voters who don’t approve of Barack Obama,” Williams said in a release. “In doing so he lied to members of the media and to the general public about his own schedule, and he never gave a second thought to what effect this could have on troop morale. I’m disgusted by this rank partisanship.”

Congress still talking about raising the debt

Without getting into all the rapidly-changing details, Congress is still debating ways to raise the debt ceiling.

It seems the only agreement between House Republicans and Senate Democrats is that the ceiling needs to be raised. But members from both sides of the aisle are lining up in support and against the so-call “Boehner plan” named after House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats and the White House are lining up behind Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan.

This morning, Kentucky’s senior senator, Mitch McConnell, took to the Senate floor to say he still supports Boehner’s plan as a compromise on the debt ceiling. Kentucky’s junior senator, Rand Paul, is opposed to the Boehner deal, based on the plan’s tricky economics and lack of a balanced budget amendment.

But Reid basically called the Boehner plan dead, since it was already taken down from a scheduled vote today.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston


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