McGraw def. Manchin

By The West Virginia Record | Sep 28, 2006

It's Darrell McGraw's West Virginia world, and we all merely live in it.

Apparently, that includes none other than our most-popular governor, state chief executive Joe Manchin. Our omnipotent attorney general showed him who's really boss last week when he "intervened" against Manchin last week in a sensitive lawsuit over the way West Virginia delivers health care to its poor.

"Intervene" in McGraw-speak means "double-crossed."

By definition, an attorney general is supposed to defend Manchin in such matters. But ours chose instead to side with the plaintiff-- a sympathetic man named Jackie Fleishman-- happily punting away his legal ethics and his sworn responsibilities as a public officeholder in exchange for the chance to become populist hero of the hour.

And who is McGraw, of all people, to resist?

Consider the case of Mr. Fleishman, who is mentally retarded. He was disqualified this summer for a program that delivered Medicaid-funded health care to his home. The state had paid for a nurse come to him, helping Fleishman eat, bathe and take medication. Now, thanks to tightened requirements for in-home care, they wanted him to go to a nursing facility.

Fleishman sued the state's Dept. of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) in July, claiming discrimination. Because we aren't running for office and, thus, it won't be twisted in television ads branding us as "anti-disabled," we can say it: such a claim was and is ridiculous.

It goes without saying that the state didn't change these rules with some insidious goal of denying aid to disabled West Virginians. Rather, like all governors Manchin was reprioritizing, trying to squeeze more from less so as to direct appropriate aid to the folks who need it most.

That said, we didn't expect Manchin to press on, pitted against the lawyers fronting the "poor and indigent" and stuck with a two-faced as his two-faced defense counsel. Savvy politicians aren't wont to wrestle in the legal mud with such a pig.

Still, one has to wonder. With the precedent set and a bullying attorney general on the warpath-- who's next? Who else plans to sue the state of West Virginia because democracy didn't give them what they want?

The issue here wasn't Mr. Fleishman's rights, but rather those of our governor to manage the state budget as he sees fit. That's his elected responsibility, one we casually deteriorate at West Virginia's own peril.

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