Category: I Spy Blog

After the Mic is Off

Cruz Exposes the Brilliance of Trump

Cruz Exposes the Brilliance of Trump

Refusal to endorse galvanized everyone against Ted, hands Trump another win

by Mark Anderson | Updated 21 Jul 2016 at 10:04 AM

Judging from my Twitter feed, most people equated Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican National Convention to setting off his political suicide vest on stage. Leading up to the speech, pundits everywhere reminded people that at the end of the bitter 1976 campaign, Reagan gave a brilliant speech, one of his best of all time — but in the end, he endorsed Ford.

But it wasn’t just his words. It was Reagan’s selflessness; his greatness, his devotion, his call to duty and putting country first that rang so true in the hearts and minds of the delegates — and made him the favorite for 1980.

Read the full article at Lifezette

Cruz Exposes the Brilliance of Trump


Trump, Cruz, and the Deal of the Century

Trump, Cruz, and the Deal of the Century

I Spy Radio host Mark Anderson just had an exclusive article published on Laura Ingraham’s Lifezette site about the deal Trump and Cruz should be making, which could unite the Republican party. Here’s a teaser, the link to the full article is below.

Trump, Cruz, and the Deal of the Century
There is one bargain the pair can make to unify the party and appease conservatives

So you’ve just lost every county in every state up for grabs in the Atlantic Quintet — after getting pounded in New York. What do you do now? It’s time to make not just a deal, but the deal to unite the Republicans and set America back on course.

Strategy is never about winning just the next battle. It’s about the long-term win. When it comes to negotiating, timing can either multiply your leverage or weaken it. Cruz should have made a deal right after Wisconsin. Coming off a big victory with so much of the rest of the race still in doubt — now that was a commanding leverage position.

But since Wisconsin…

Read full article on Laura Ingraham’s Lifezette

Trump, Cruz, and the Deal of the Century

Why Hillary’s Private Server was such a Glaring Security Risk

Why Hillary’s Private Server was such a Glaring Security Risk

This past weekend on I Spy Radio (Show # 5-32), we had the pleasure of interviewing James Hirsen of Headline Hollywood and Kevin Freeman, one of the world’s leading experts on economic warfare and financial terrorism. (See his site, and his blog, Global Economic Warfare.) Plenty to choose from on what to write about for this Monday Morning wrap-up, no doubt the new insights on Hillary’s private email server (1) practically leaped out at both me and my ever-astute producer. So what did we learn?

Hillary’s Deleted Emails

There’s been a lot of talk—a lot of talk—about Hillary’s private email server, especially her 30,000+ deleted emails. And, sadly, all that talk has led to pretty much more talk and more discussions but almost no actions.  And by that, I mean no jail time. (Kevin’s thoughts on that very issue are ’round about the 43:50 mark).

But all that talk and suspicion focuses almost entirely on the content of Hillary’s emails—especially the deleted ones. Or on what she has or has not turned over. Yet. Or on topics like Benghazi. Or whether she was giving political favors to big Clinton Foundation donors. And while all of that is important, it turns out that the contents of Hillary’s emails may not be the most damning part of this story.

Hillary’s Private Server

At this point, pretty much everyone except Hillary condemns her use of a private email server for her official State Department business—with the possible exception of Bill. (Maybe it’s just me, but do you ever get the sense that if there was even a slim chance that throwing Hillary under the bus would make him popular, Bill would it in a heartbeat? And if there was a gorgeous young intern on the bus, he’d back it up and hit her again—”Watch me get some air, honey.” But I digress.)

Anyway. Here too, the discussion on Hillary’s private server has been missing an important point. To date, the discussion has largely focused on the fact it allowed her to circumvent the law, lack of transparency, and to some extent the lack of security. Perhaps the reason the important point is skipped over is that it gets a little technical. So let me expand on an analogy I used on the show to help illustrate this.

Before we go any further, use the player here to enjoy some Medieval mood music. You’ll see why in a moment.

Behind the Castle Walls

Bird's eye view of Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle, showing the towers and inner keep

Imagine you’re the Queen of the State Department and you want to get a message to King Obama. Okay, I admit; so far this still sounds a lot like real-life Washington but hang in here.

There you are, holed up are in the Chancellor’s Tower at Windsor and you need to get a message to the King over in Keep (that’s the inner most part of the castle). No problem. Rather than walking all that way and up and down all those, literally, stone-cold stairs, you scratch out your message, hand it to a courier who, forthwith, runs it to the King over in the Keep. The advantage here is the courier remains safely behind the castle walls at all times. There’s that moat and the towers, the armed guards and so even if someone did get behind the walls, it’s a safe bet they’d find their rears at the business end of a pike real soon.

This is what Hillary email should have looked like had she used the government server. Everything stays, as it were, behind the castle walls. But that’s not what she did.

Hillary’s Private Server: The Drunken Messenger

Hillary's messenger stopping along the way
Hillary’s email messenger stopping along the way

Back again to our analogy. Let’s say you’re Queen Hillary, safely behind the castle walls up in the Chancellor’s Tower and you need to dispatch a message to Sir William of Chappaqua in another castle a few states over. You once again scratch out your message and hand it to your messenger. Except this is where it gets very different.

The way email works is this: when you send your email, it goes out into the world but before it gets to its final destination, it’s more like the old Pony Express than something out of Star Trek. Your email doesn’t get sent through some subspace channel directly from your computer to the recipient’s computer. Instead, just like the Pony Express, the mail is handed from one server to another all along the route. Your email is handed to your local server (your ISP—Internet Server Provider) and from there to a number of other servers as it wends its way to its final destination, your recipient’s ISP and, from there, to your recipient’s computer.

To return to the analogy, Queen Hillary’s email left the safety of the castle walls and went out into the countryside—and stopped at every tavern along the way for a pint or two before staggering out the door on to the next one.  This is how Hillary sent official, confidential, and classified State Department emails.

But Wait, it Gets Worse

That tavern picture above isn’t too far from the truth. The “secret message” is just sitting, there on the table and potentially anyone can sneak a peek. Or, as the servant toddles off to the next tavern, he could get waylaid and robbed or worse. Worse you say? Worse, say I.

What’s worse is that while the messenger is either sleeping it off under the bar or staggering off to the next village, someone could not only read the message but potentially slip a bit of malicious code in message pouch. Not so much as change the message (“P.S. Bill, I want a divorce”) but code that could make it easier to get into the castles. This would be like a note to the guards that, at 12:01 a.m. on Michaelmas, open the gate.

This is malware. It gets into a computer, behind the castle walls, and makes it easier for the barbarian hackers to gain entry. As revealed on the show, as of the last year of the Bush presidency, the Chinese government had hired 100,000 full-time hackers to do nothing but try to hack into the U.S. government, major companies, financial systems, and internet infrastructure. So what do you figure are the chances one or more of those 100,000 hackers managed to hack into a “tavern” and lie in wait for a government messenger to stagger in?

But Wait, it Gets Worse Yet

Hillary's Chappaqua residence. Sort of looks like a castle, doesn't it?
Hillary’s Chappaqua residence. Sort of looks like a castle, doesn’t it?

At long last, the dutiful messenger finally staggers up to Castle Chappaqua. He salutes the guard and presents his credentials at the same time and wobbles a bit as the guard yanks them from his hand. The two blush a little as the sounds of feminine giggles waft down from one of the towers — oh, sorry. Got lost there in the moment.

What’s worse than an unguarded messenger carrying classified information going from one castle to another, stopping at every tavern along the way? What’s worse is precisely what Hillary has done. Brace yourself.

Remember that messenger carrying the message? That he kept leaving on the bar? On the bar of every tavern and dive between Windsor and Chappaqua? The message in the courier bag into which anyone who knew how could slip other messages? If all that weren’t already horrible enough, given the sensitivity of the messages, think about this:  every time Hillary emailed—er, messaged—King Obama or any other government official—even people in State Department offices just down the hall—the messenger was dispatched all went to Chappaqua. And back.

That’s right. Instead of a messenger going from Tower A to Tower B safely behind the castle walls, Hillary sent that drunken messenger all the way to Chappaqua and back, stopping again at every tavern along the way. Just to get an email  to King Obama.

Yes, the contents of those emails matter. Destroying emails is criminal enough. But what Hillary has exposed the entire government to —and all of us— is far, far worse. And she wants to be president? She ought to be in jail.



The discussion with Kevin about Hillary’s private email server and her deleted emails takes place in segment six but to really get the full brunt of it, you need to listen to the whole show. It puts what she’s done in context.

Copyright © Aug. 10, 2015 Mark Anderson and I Spy Radio. All rights reserved. If citing this article, please cite or link to

Guest Post: Where is Oregon in the Convention of States?

Guest Post: Where is Oregon in the Convention of States?

By Deborah Lee on July 16, 2015

Today’s post comes from Deborah Lee, the Oregon State Director for the Convention of States Project.

Our Federal government is the biggest intrusion into our everyday lives (and I’m not just talking about the recent Supreme Court decisions). We are fortunate that the Framers of our Constitution left us a solution to our badly overgrown federal government.

Deborah Lee, Oregon State Director, Convention of States Project
Deborah Lee, OR State Director, COS Project

Article V of the U.S. Constitution states that 2/3 of the state legislatures can call for an Amendment Convention. It’s a high bar, and intentionally so, but not too high if the need is great. The need is great and it’s clear that Washington D.C. will not fix itself.

We are hearing the beginning of a national debate on amendments which would rein in the size and scope of the federal government. Mark Levin has proposed 11 amendments in his book The Liberty Amendments. Levin’s book is a great read. Michael Farris is the head of our Convention of States Project and he has proposed other amendment ideas. I challenge you, dear readers, to consider your own amendments.

Convention of States – Who’s In?

So, 2/3 of the state legislatures equal 34 states. The Convention of States Project is working in a grassroots style to make an Article V Convention happen! We have four states that have approved their applications; Alaska, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. There are 32 states that are “in-process” this legislative season, and two that will file in the near future. That many states filing the same exact application is historic! Our goal is 40 states.

Oregon’s application is SJM 6. Sen. Brian Boquist is our Chief Sponsor. Sadly, our bill got stuck in the Senate Rules Committee and died there last week when the legislature adjourned for the session. However, we have learned a lot, and have changed our focus to lay the groundwork for the next legislative session in Salem.

Grassroots, Homeschool Style

Convention of States LogoOur strategy is to pass all 40 state applications in a grassroots, homeschool style of building public support. Grassroots, homeschool style is adults who don’t know how to lobby, but get in the car and go to the capital with their kids and learn by chatting with their legislators. Grassroots, homeschool style is adults who don’t know how to teach a topic, but they roll up their sleeves and sit down and study until they can explain it to their kids. And Grassroots, homeschool style is adults who know the power of prayer, the power of the old fashioned phone tree, and the power of calling your friends and family to explain the problem and what is needed to solve the problem. Homeschoolers did this in the battle against HR6 in 1994. (You can read about that battle here.) I was not homeschooling then, but my nephew and niece were. That might have been my first call to a legislator. I was scared, but I made the calls for them and their parents. I did it and so can you. Now we need to do it again. The good news is, we now have new technology like email, Facebook, Twitter and text alerts to make it a lot easier than phone and fax trees.

Michael Farris is also a Constitutional lawyer and a homeschool father of 10 children. He is the founder of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), who along with Michael Smith, have fought for homeschool freedom in all 50 states over 35 years. Michael Farris and Michael Smith led that fight to defeat HR6 back in 1994. Today homeschoolers can educate their children in relative freedom because of their steadfast efforts.

How to Help Oregon get On Board

So, how can you help? First, listen to Mark Anderson’s interview with Michael Farris this weekend on the I Spy Radio Show. I can’t wait to hear it. Michael Farris is a fabulous speaker. (I have heard him at many a homeschool convention over the past 19 years.) Next, go to, and read and sign the petition to our Oregon legislators. We need a minimum of 100 signatures in every Oregon legislative district, especially those in Portland, Salem and Eugene. Thirdly, roll up your sleeves and sit down to study until you can teach this, simply, to someone else. It should be the length of an “elevator pitch” (as much time as you would have in an elevator with someone else to persuade them of your idea). Practice your elevator pitch to your spouse and your teens. Then make the pitch to your friends, neighbors, co-workers. We need every one of them to make this happen. We’re still early in the process but here in “liberal Oregon” we’ve already had more than 3,300 signers but we want thousands more to join to make Salem listen.

If you want to do more, we could use more District Captains. A District Captain’s main job is to get 100 people to sign the petition in their home legislative district. There is a job description you can read if you go to, click on “Get Involved” and “Be a Leader”.

If everyone does something, we will make this happen, even in Oregon! I can’t wait to see it happen! Will you please join me?

#     #     #

Contact: If you’d like get involved in Oregon, Deborah Lee can be reached via email ([email protected]). You can also sign the petition, whether you live in Oregon or anywhere, by heading to

The Pamela Geller Cartoons – Fox News on Wrong Side

The Pamela Geller Cartoons – Fox News on Wrong Side

In the wake of the Garland TX shootings, much has been made and continues to be made, about the “appropriateness” of Pamela Geller’s “Draw Muhammad” cartoon event. As recently as this morning, Martha MacCallum of Fox News interviewed Lars Larson and Jehmu Greene who all agreed Pamela Geller had the absolute right to do what she did but debated the “appropriateness” of her actions to hold the event. Within that heated debate, Martha posed the question “What is the appropriate response to ISIS?” Sadly, due to the combative nature of the interview, it went largely unanswered. So allow me.

Fox News vs the Pamela Geller Cartoons
Pamela Geller defends herself on Fox News against Martha MacCallum in the wake of the Garland shooting

When responding to terrorists, it is exceptionally appropriate to demonstrate you are not afraid of them. That their threats of violence—to say nothing of their acts of violence—have done nothing and will do nothing to make you cower in fear. That you will not abridge your own speech out of fear they may do something violent in return.

Showing weakness emboldens terrorists. Unfortunately, weakness now passes as official U.S. policy. Even before he became president, Obama launched his apologetic world tour. He has since backed up those apologies by official actions, conceding time and again in the face of radical Islamic threats. When push came to shove in the “Arab Spring” he sided with the radical elements in Egypt and Libya. He sides with the more radical Syrian rebels (many factions of which evolved into ISIS) over the more secular and moderate (though despicable) President Bashar al-Assad.

Reminiscent of Palestinians throwing rocks at well-armed Israeli soldiers, Obama has launched just enough missiles and drone strikes from afar, to give the appearance of doing “something” to the American people. But absent is a bold, authoritative, and crushing offensive strike that would send the message that needs to be sent.

The Pamela Geller Cartoons Entirely Appropriate

In this sense, in the wake of weakness passing as official U.S. policy, the Pamela Geller cartoons were entirely appropriate. She—a woman no less—stood in the face of violence, shook her fist, and proclaimed, “We will not be silent!” Would Martha MacCallum question the “appropriateness” of a woman standing up to an abusive husband with a similar determination of “I will not be silent!”?

Winner of Pamela Geller Cartoons
Unlike Fox News, we’re happy to show the winning Mohammed cartoon (click the image for a full-size version)

It’s not just Martha MacCallum but many of the Fox News team. Bill O’Reilly, Greta Van Susteren, and others have scolded Geller over the “appropriateness” of her event—while conceding her right to hold it. The only two who seem to get it are Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity. In an on-air exchange, Megyn absolutely dismantled O’Reilly pontificating with a single question: “You know what else the jihadis don’t like? They hate Jews. Should we get rid of all Jews?”

It’s also highly appropriate to know the mindset of the people you’re fighting, to know your enemy. And judging from the self-righteous comments of those on Fox News and others like Jehmu Greene in this morning’s debate, I would guess none of them have actually read the Qur’an. I challenge them to do so; I invite you to do so. There is a highly respected English translation, fully searchable, electronic version of the Qu’ran available on the page for Show 5-04 (see the “Links Mentioned” section). Take a look. See for yourself about the treatment of Jews and Christians and the absolutely permissible act of killing them if they do not submit to the superiority of Islam. The difference between moderate and radical Islamic beliefs is that moderates view the killing of Jews and Christians as “permissible”; radical Islamists view it as a commandment.

If the Fox News crew actually knew the mindset of radical Islamists, they would know that the “appropriate” response against radicalized violence is strength. On I Spy Radio, I have interviewed multiple guests on radical Islam and ISIS, from Brigitte Gabriel (Act! for America) to Dr. Andrew Bostom to Joseph Klein to Dr. Bruce Thornton to, most recently, Raymond Ibrahim. In discussions with them both on and off the air, all of them underscore that the Middle Eastern mindset is one that respects strength. This has existed for centuries. The Muslim incursions into Europe did not stop because Christians the world over apologized. The incursions stopped because of strength, because of the Crusades, which proclaimed via actions that Christians had had enough and were also willing to die for their faith.

Free Speech vs. Appropriateness

The Fox commentators have also used the infamous “Piss Christ” (an “artwork” of a crucifix in a jar of urine) as an example to counter Geller’s event in that they agreed the artist had a right to do it but that it too was “inappropriate.” They are correct that it was inappropriate. But it’s a false comparison because his rights as an artist were not being threatened. If Christians were dragging atheists or artists out into the streets and beheading then, yes, “Piss Christ” would have been an absolutely appropriate response. Instead, it was an artist with a cushy fat taxpayer grant thumbing his nose at Christians, whose tax dollars helped fund it. The only way you can compare “Piss Christ” to Geller’s event would be if there had been no radical Islamic killings of Westerners, no threats of violence, no implied or overt threats of forcing America to abide by Sharia law—and that Muslims had funded Geller’s event to insult them.

Another common refrain among the Fox News commentators is that Pamela Geller should not have “provoked” the radical Islamists. Our very existence “provokes” radical Islamists. To echo Megyn Kelly, the very existence of Jews and Christians “provoke” them (unless they admit the superiority and ultimate authority of Islam). Our way of life is an insult to them. They hate that our women flaunt themselves and walk around half naked—to say nothing of their demands of equal rights with men.

Our entire existence as a nation “provokes” them. They hate us for our freedoms and not just freedom of speech but all of them. The very fact that we’re free to worship who we want and how we want throws it in their face that we have not submitted, that we have not turned our society on its head to follow the dictates of Islam. And they hate that we have even enshrined all of this in the Constitution that guarantees us these rights and this ability to thumb our nose at radical Islam.

So many of our Founding Fathers proclaimed the price of Liberty was so high and so precious they were willing to die to defend it. Do you think the Pamela Geller cartoons or those attending the “Draw Mohammed” contest—or the former Muslim who won it—weren’t all keenly aware that they were putting their own lives at risk for standing up for freedom? In decrying the “appropriateness” of Pamela Geller’s event, the Fox News crew admitted her right to free speech. Just as they have the right to criticize. And yet it makes one wonder whether they too would put their lives on the line to defend it?

Standing up with strength and resolve, and knowing that it is the correct response in the face of those who would do violence against you simply because you dared to stand up is appropriate. Because the price of freedom is that, at some point, you will be offended. Some are willing to pay the ultimate price for freedom. Others take the safety of the newsroom.

– Dr. Mark Anderson


Copyright © May 6, 2015 Mark Anderson and I Spy Radio. All rights reserved. If citing this article, please link to

CCOs: Forced Compliance

CCOs: Forced Compliance

(A version of the following article originally appeared in Northwest Connection, vol 6 (no. 68), under the title “CCOs: Not just Wrong but Evil”.)

In late July, I made a guest appearance on the Jeff Kropf Radio Show (KUIK-1360am) to talk about the Coordinated Care Organizations that were to officially kicked off on August 1. Jeff had asked me to come on to talk about SB1580, which officially birthed CCOs.  During that appearance, I said, “This is an evil bill.”

I’ll stand by that statement. And I think by the end of this article, you just might agree with me.

You may have seen something recently that was circulating on Facebook—a form straight from the Oregon Health Authority that allows a child as young as 15 to be sterilized without parental permission or even their knowledge.

As shocking as it is, this isn’t new.  Back in 1995, the age of “informed consent” for sterilization was set at 18. Sometime over the next six years, it was changed and by the 2001 version of the Oregon statutes, the age of consent was dropped to 15 (ORS 436.225).

As of this writing, we haven’t been able to determine when, why, or how this was changed but apparently our leaders came to believe this sort of permanent, life-altering decision was something a 15-year-old can make. And do it without parental knowledge.

What it does reveal, however, is the mindset behind those in the Oregon Health Authority and their attitude toward life, parent-child relationships, parental rights vs. minor rights, and human sexuality.

Combined with the CCOs, it’s reflective of top-down, do-as-you’re-told, authoritarian thinking with the State firmly in charge. The exact opposite of what our Founding Fathers intended. It’s about gaining more power over more of our lives with the expansion of the Oregon Health Authority (and don’t you just love the blatant overtones of communism in that agency name?).

And make no mistake about it: that is their intention. The CCOs start with Medicaid recipients, move to swallow Medicare, then on to public employees, teachers, and the rest of us. In fact, the Public Employee Benefits Board recently announced they were looking for a new provider—one that would fit with the CCO model—and severing ties with Providence, which had previously used the model of allowing you to choose your plan and your doctor (Statesman-Journal, August 23, 2012).

Not anymore. Now it’s what the State dictates. This includes greatly expanding mental health. Keep this in mind, because mental health is a major focus of all of this healthcare expansion. But it begs the question: who is determining mental health? Can they say, “Gee, as a Catholic, you’re pretty rigid and judgmental—you need to be more tolerant”?

In 1938, Austria voted to join Germany—and by 99.7% of voters. From the outside looking in, Germany seemed ideal—especially for Austria, which was still suffering high unemployment and a stagnated economy due to the Worldwide Depression. But in Germany, nearly everyone had a job and everyone had access to healthcare. So they voted to unify with Germany.

And then one of the first things the Germans did was to take over the schools and drive a wedge between children and parents. Kids spent more and more time at schools, with more and more of their life revolving around the state-controlled schools, so they saw them as a home away from home.

And all children were forced to go off to Nazi Youth Camps. Except these weren’t about earning merit badges; it was state-sponsored indoctrination. Girl and boy camps were located close to one another and they were given plenty of opportunity, both formal and informally, to mingle. Many of the girls came home pregnant.

Why? Because the State knew that breaking that last taboo of innocence makes them less likely to respect the authority of their parents. Kids now see themselves as adults. And by extension the State provides access to all the good things in life, including jobs, health care, and opportunity itself. Parents and parental relationships mean less and less until it means nothing more than its sentimental value.

I mention all this because the ability of a 15-year-old to sterilize themselves is really just the tip of the iceberg. The Oregon Health Authority is currently and actively pushing to move into schools and have already laid massive plans to do so.

And as part of this push, they’re developing an army of organizations, agencies, and plans that will come between parents and children. Agencies like the CCOs, Healthy Kids, Healthy Kids Learn Better, and the Oregon School Based Health Care Network (SBHCN), to name just a few, and resources like Minor Rights and the Oregon Youth Sexual Plan.

To do all this, they’re working in close partnership with groups like W.I.S.E. (Working to Institute Sexuality Education) and Planned Parenthood.

Minor Rights is an interesting trek through the OHA mindset. The “resource” for educators lays out the rights minors have. That in itself is revealing, changing the dynamic between parent and child. The law protects you. You have rights. Everything we talk about is confidential—it’s the law—you don’t have to tell your parents anything.

Do you see how this immediately severs the child-parent relationship?

The vast majority of this little document is focused on children’s rights with little if any consideration for the rights of parents to be involved and to know what the hell State-sanctioned “providers” are telling your children.

In fact they have are specifically blocked parents from accessing information through a neat little maneuver. Normally, parents do have rights under the FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Except Oregon has maneuvered to place the School-Based Health Centers under HIPAA rules, which makes it far harder, if not impossible, to obtain disclosure.

That’s right. You can put your child on the bus in the morning and you have not a clue and barely any rights to know what happens to them when they get there.

In the Oregon Youth Sexual Plan, one of the strategies is to develop a “state-level coordination of youth sexual health promotion” (emphasis mine). “Develop” (meaning the state will train them) “and involve youth leaders… by engaging underrepresented group such as… lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning.” And this shocking statement: “Educate faith community leaders as ‘youth sexual health’ advocates.”

And then there’s also this from the OYSP: “Advocate and educate Legislature for universal health care.” Which pairs nicely with this from the School-Based Health Centers Network: “Ask your legislator to support the inclusion of SBHC’s in Oregon’s new CCO model.”

Why? Perhaps because CCOs are not beholden to public disclosure laws. And it’s a clear attempt to merge the Department of Education with the OHA. More power, and more direct control and influence over an even larger part of the population.

So is the CCO bill evil? For me, it’s hard to think that it isn’t. Not just because of what it most clearly is—the takeover of healthcare, putting more elements of society under government control, and removal of free-market principles—but because of what it can become. Remember, when you give control of your health to the government, they have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayer to ensure you cost the government as little money as possible. They can order you not to drink, not to smoke; to lose weight and even to force mental health counseling you. Own a gun? You can expect that “right” to be open for interpretation. And all of this opens the door for denial of service to our elderly and to indoctrination of our youth.

And don’t forget, we no longer have a state superintendent of schools. We gave that power to the governor.

Who also happens to directly control the Health Authority.

CCOs: Lurching into a County Near You

CCOs: Lurching into a County Near You

Mark Anderson

(The following post originally appeared in Northwest Connection, vol 6 (no. 65), June 2012.)

A Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) is Obamacare. Or it’s not. It only affects those on Medicaid—and only those on Medicaid. Except it doesn’t. But we have to do it and we have to do it now. Or maybe we could wait a year.

About the only thing that is for certain about CCOs at this point is that there are still a lot of questions about them.

In case you missed it, and most people did, healthcare is about to radically change in Oregon, thanks to Gov. Kitzhaber’s Healthcare Transformation. The same man who ushered in the Oregon Health Plan, which after two decades is widely recognized as at least a partial failure if not an outright failure, now brings you the Oregon Healthcare Transformation. But this time, it’s sure to work.

Here’s how it all happened. The CCOs were spawned into being in 2011 by HB 3650, which established the initial framework for the creation of coordinated care organizations. Then in 2012, in the shortened session, SB 1580 gave legislative approval to the Oregon Health Authority’s proposals for CCOs. What’s surprising is that SB 1580 passed with overwhelming support from House Republicans with 23 out of 30 of them voting for it, many of whom call themselves conservative.

All of this is an accelerated version of Obamacare. Under Obamacare, CCOs are known as “ACOs” — Accountable Care Organizations.

A CCO is responsible for providing fully integrated physical health services to provide coordinated care between all aspects of healthcare. Another, simpler way to think of it is ACORN running your healthcare. That, or its Obamacare arriving early in Oregon.

A CCO is a complete overhaul of how healthcare will be administered and institutes numerous new layers of bureaucracy between a patient and their doctor.

No longer will you just see your doctor. Instead, there will be multiple layers of non-medical personnel all making decisions about your healthcare. For example, there will be a Peer Wellness Specialist to assess your needs, a Personal Health Navigator to “enable” you to make decisions, even a Home Care Commission. Somehow all of this new bureaucracy is going to save money and provide better care, even though funds that could be spent on doctors is being spent on bureaucrats.

The stated goal of all of this upheaval is to save money and to put control of administering Medicaid on the local level. To pay for all this, the governor negotiated a $1.9 billion deal paid out over five years, with an initial down payment of $620 million for fiscal year 2013—on the condition that Oregon saves 2% on its Medicaid costs. Funny thing, that. Over those five years, Oregon is likely to spend about $22–$25 billion and 2% would come to $454–$500 million. So we’re spending $1.9 billion to save $500 million? Does no one in the governor’s office have a calculator?

In part, it will “save money” by instituting a hard cap on Medicaid spending. Each CCO will be given a global budget (made up of funding from various sources) but once the money runs out, that’s it.

Recently, Marion County became the first in the state to sign an operating agreement with a CCO when two out of three Republican commissioners voted to do so. Commissioner Patti Milne was the lone holdout.

Let’s get back to some of those questions. The proponents of this adamantly say, “It’s not Obamacare.” And that’s true—sort of. Aside from the obvious-to-everyone-but- the-proponents similarities between CCOs and Obamacare, there have been numerous articles and comments by public officials, including the governor himself, that show a clear connection. Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius said of the CCOs, “We are proud to support… these efforts to coordinate care, which mirror our efforts at the national level, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.”

If it walks like Obamacare, quacks like Obamacare, looks like Obamacare…

But let’s look at some of the other statements by proponents of the CCO, such as, “It’s only going to affect Medicaid,” meaning it won’t affect the rest of us.

This is a curious thing to say, because on the very first page of the Agreement Marion County just signed, Paragraph B says, “CCOs will initially provide health services to Medicaid beneficiaries” (emphasis mine). Not only that but “H.B. 3650 also directs OHA to develop plans for CCOs to provide healthcare services to employees of the Public Employees’ Benefit Board and the Oregon Educators Benefit Board by contract.” Did they not read their own bill? (Again?) That, and there are plenty of publicized statements by Kitzhaber and others who all say this is designed to eventually capture all of us.

“We have to do it.” Isn’t it funny how a bill designed to give local control about healthcare doesn’t give counties an option? Aside from that, according to Sam Brentano, Marion County Commissioner, if the operating agreement doesn’t work out, “We’ll just opt out.” If that’s the case, then that invalidates his and others’ argument that counties have to do it in the first place.

“Medicaid already has a cap, so this is no big deal.” Except that’s not quite true either, because Medicaid only has a soft cap, which is how states end up with a hole in their budget when they over spend it. A true cap would prevent you from overspending that account. CCOs, however, do have a hard cap.

No less than the far-left Robert Woods Johnson Foundation says, “The total budget for each CCO would be capped at a set amount each year, a feature no other state currently offers… The idea of capping Medicaid spending is innovative and has never been approved by the federal government.”

And no one knows what happens once that money runs out. Does your grandmother simply do without?

What about liability for the counties? While Commissioner Brentano assured me signing the agreement doesn’t have any liability for the county (how does signing any agreement not incur liability?), according to the agreement, the county is a board member with “the authority to manage and conduct the [CCO]’s operations.” Not only that, the agreement puts the county in the position of a super majority. Both of those sure sound like potential liability nightmares if something goes haywire.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions beyond these. Like, what happens if the promised $1.9 billion doesn’t materialize? What’s the impact of allowing non-profit organizations the ability to participate in forprofit CCO? What will be the effect of having a taxing authority on the board of directors? Will they be forced to institute a health tax to fill the gap? Why is there a clause that seems to allow the CCO the ability to create its own insurance company? Or what happens if Obamacare is struck down?

Actually, we know the answer to that one. Oregon’s CCOs were specifically designed to continue whether or not Obamacare survives its court challenge. We are the test case.

I guess if you’re going to fall and break a hip, you better do it in the first half of the year.

© June 2012 by Mark Anderson. All Rights Reserved. Please use proper citations.