The Daily Independent in Ashland, Kentucky published this editorial on Oct. 9 regarding an offer from Gov. Matt Bevin to meet with educators who protested him at a recent event:

Does Gov. Matt Bevin really want to make amends with teachers?

A little genuineness goes a long way.

When educators protested Bevin in Catlettsburg on Saturday (Oct. 5), they were exercising their first-amendment right. They did so peacefully — it’s not like a riot broke out — and within reason.

Bevin, undoubtedly a polarizing figure, had a positive announcement to make from the courthouse steps. He declared Boyd County will receive more than $800,000 in funds for road improvements. Later in Greenup County, he made a similar announcement that involved more than $900,000. He made stops in Greenup, Raceland and later Ashland for the annual Ashland Alliance meeting.

However, perhaps his single-most important action of Saturday’s busy day was extending an invitation to personally meet with protesting teachers. He said, in front of everyone, that they would exchange contact information.

If Bevin truly wants to make a good impression, he’ll follow through on this offer.

Granted, it probably won’t win over these teachers to the point that they’ll vote for him. That bridge may already be burned.

Bevin’s purpose in promising a meeting should not be to obtain their vote or support. It should be to show that he cares.

Does Bevin care about teachers?

Public-school educators likely have a quick, red-faced reaction to that question.

Back in August, Bevin’s administration conducted an investigation that revealed 1,074 teachers violated Kentucky law when they participated in a “sickout” during this year’s legislation session over pension-benefit concerns.

At the time, Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson said the administration was extending grace and did not issue penalties for the violations.

“Extending grace” hasn’t been a habit of Bevin’s when it comes to his speech.

Just like with the president, Bevin’s path to unpopularity begins with word choice. Tactful responses to certain sensitive issues would help diminish ill feelings directed at him.

If he truly cares about public educators, he will meet with them. He will hear them. He will listen. Obviously, he doesn’t have to — and likely won’t — agree.

But if he doesn’t follow through on this offer, it will all be perceived as an act.

Let’s hope transfer of fraud unit helps

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph published this editorial on Oct. 16:

After months of planning, control of a unit that fights Medicaid fraud in West Virginia has been transferred from the Department of Health and Human Resources to the state attorney general’s office.

The change took effect earlier this month. Legislation calling for the transfer of the fraud unit was approved by lawmakers earlier this year. The hope is to strengthen West Virginia’s fight against fraud, waste and abuse.

The change will bring West Virginia in line with more than 40 other states, according to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

“There has been a tremendous amount of hard work on behalf of taxpayers to make for a smooth transition,” Morrisey said. “Our goal is to ensure the unit continues its excellent work and to enhance its ability to root out even more fraud, waste and abuse in hopes that we can solidify the Medicaid program for those who legitimately rely upon it as a safety net.”

To help ensure a smooth transition, technology improvements have been made, along with an increase in the state’s federal grant and security enhancements to bolster the unit’s protection of sensitive data, Morrisey’s office said.

Many of those who supported moving the unit cited the Attorney General’s success in fighting Social Security disability fraud. That unit has generated more than $18.5 million since its inception in West Virginia several years ago.

Given Morrisey’s success in fighting Social Security disability fraud, moving the Medicaid fraud unit to the attorney general’s office was a logical move.

The unlawful taking of Medicaid benefits wastes tax dollars, deepens deficits and jeopardizes a program designed to help those most in need, points correctly noted earlier this year by Morrisey.

It is our hope that the transfer of the Medicaid fraud unit will help in weeding out those who are claiming Medicaid benefits in West Virginia of which they are not legally entitled to.

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