Takeaways from breakout sessions at Defending the American Dream Summit

I attended several sessions and found most invaluable, especially when panelists made points that provoked new insights or paradigms. Listed are brief descriptions of the panels and my ‘takeaways’. If you attended the same sessions, please add your comments. If you attended different sessions and would like to have your ‘take-aways’ posted – email us at info@palmbeachcountyteaparty.org and we’ll post it for you.

Medicaid Expansion: Breaking the Bank while Cheating the Poor

“Did you know that 13% of patients on Medicaid are more likely to die than patients without any insurance? It’s a true and startling fact. This workshop will focus on the problems and cost associated with expanding this broken program, and show how enterprising doctors are offering better solutions.”

Tarren Bragdon, Foundation for Government Accountability, CEO

  • Medicaid should only be for the truly needy
  • Largest cause of government spending and borrowing

Avik Roy, Manhattan Institute, Senior Fellow

  • Our system is breaking by cost overruns by Medicaid
  • Medicaid pays only ¼ of the price that private insurers must pay, so most providers will not take Medicaid patients
  • Health outcomes are worse for Medicaid patients than for people who have no insurance and go to emergency rooms. Government run single-payer outcomes are worse than anything else

Lee S Gross, MD, Epiphany Health, Co-founder

  • Epiphany Health is a concierge plan for the little guy, not insurance. Those on Medicare cannot go to a concierge plan doctor and are forced to stay with Medicare providers.
  • Several Republican governors are opting for the Medicaid Expansion because Hospitals are lobbying like crazy: Ohio, Michigan, Arizona
  • Hospitals love taking Medicaid money and then subsidize the shortfall by charging privately insured patients more to make up the difference! Hospitals are the ‘enemy’ – not the insurance companies
  • Doctors now work to satisfy the hospitals not the patients because 7 years ago 70% of physicians had private practices while now – 70% of physicians are in hospital owned practices!
Getting Your Accounts in Order: Tax Reform at the State Level

“….Come find out how activists across America have helped to decrease their state burden an put money back in the pockets of their fellow citizens.”

Dr. Christine P. Ries, Georgia Institute of Technology, Professor of Economics

  • The GA Tax Reform Council has made significant progress in rolling back taxes
  • Tax Reform The Game was developed by Dr. Ries, and allows for interactive modeling of changes (eg implications of lowering/raising taxes and spending), incorporating dynamic assumptions for economic and job growth based on such changes. Play with it!

Chris Farr, AFP Foundation, NC Deputy State Director

  • Succeeded in bringing down the tax rates, capped the state gas tax and eliminated the estate (death) tax in this purple state!

Joe Henchman, TAX Foundation, Vice President for State Projects

  • States that made significant progress in lowering rates in the past year were: Wisconsin, New Mexico, Indiana, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Massachusetts, North Carolina, DC (see details at their State section)
  • For state by state data on surges in income tax revenues go to their article: States see Spring Surge Income Tax Revenues

Waste Watchers: Finding Government Waste & Shedding Light On It

“We’ve all heard the stories about government wasting tax dollars on $12 bagels and parties in Las Vegas….Our seasoned experts will explain what causes this waste, and help you learn how to identify and expose all the pork”

The focus of this session was on state and local levels – however all were referred to a wiki-like site for federal spending (outrages) called Spendopedia!

Susan Combs, TX Comptroller of Public Accounts

  • Schools are 1/3 of the state budget and school construction is the biggest boondoggle/source of waste!
  • It takes persistence, creativity and determination to find waste
  • “If you can’t defend it, don’t spend it”
  • She uses data-mining software to uncover Medicaid fraud
  • NO GOVERNMENT WANTS YOU TO KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING! – Be ruthless about demanding information

Dan Epstein, Cause of Action, Executive Director

  • Grant money from Federal Government to States is typically used (funneled) to groups lobbying for increased taxes!
  • Since government doesn’t want to be watched, the FTC looks at all watch-dog groups’ websites.
  • In order to get fee-waivers on the Federal level it’s necessary to be a non-profit and categorized as a ‘news media requestor”. Have to fight for your rights – eg AFL/CIO has ‘news media requestor’ status whereas his organization is suing since rejected for such status.
  • He recommends getting published on the Washington Freebeacon!

Mary Ellen Beatty, Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, Director of Citizen Outreach (click on state for your state’s websites)

  • Franklin Center is a network of ‘investigative reporters/bloggers’ looking for Waste, Fraud and Abuse at schoolboard, city councils, county commissions.
  • It only takes a handful of people to ‘shine the light’ on each of the above
  • Review their websites, and write about it!
  • Call out elected and government officials by name and link to their name in articles to trigger Google Alerts!
  • Tweet @ the officials’ twitter accounts because the tweets are public

Tips from the Q&A Session at the end of the panel:

  • To see examples of FOIA requests search on ‘foia letter generator tool’
  • If you get pushback – MAKE A STORY OUT OF IT! Use the Franklin Center. Document every details and again – NAME NAMES!
  • Don’t be labeled as a NUT! Be professional and respectful
  • Be creative in fighting copying fees (used to hide stuff) – offer to come in and just read the material, use your phone to take pictures of the pages, don’t accept paying per page!

Building Bridges and Creating an Army: The Importance of Relationships

“So you want to make a difference. Before you can truly be effective, you need to build a network. These are fellow activists you can leverage when it comes time to act on your issue”

Jen Stefano, AFP State Director

  • Know who and what you are
  • Explain policy issues from the Point of View of those to whom you’re speaking
  • Go to their meetings (the people you’re trying to reach) – don’t expect people to come to yours
  • Do you have the same people coming to your meetings over and over and they don’t ever DO ANYTHING???? Stop!

Daniel Garza, The LIBRE Initiative, Executive Director

  • Of the self-identified Hispanic population, 1/3 speak only Spanish, 1/3 are bi-lingual and 1/3 only speak English
  • A very large percentage (of the Spanish-speaking) have their tv’s tuned only to Univision and get all of their news/politics/etc from that station

Evan Feinberg, Generation Opportunity, President

  • Aimed at youth
  • Jobs and NSA spying big issues


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