Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Obamacare enrollments fell short of expectations—the latest example of the law’s failure to deliver on its promises. That’s why Republicans are acting with urgency to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered reform. Here’s what we’re working on this week to “improve” things:
Medicaid: The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), has scheduled a markup convening on Tuesday, January 7, 2017. The subcommittee will review the following bills:
- H.R. 181, Close Annuity Loopholes in Medicaid (CALM) Act, authored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), would ensure individuals with significant means are not burdening taxpayers instead of paying for their own care. The CALM Act would amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to count portions of income from annuities of a community spouse as income available to institutionalized spouses for purposes of eligibility for medical assistance, and for other purposes.Clearly Rep. Mullin has no clue what “being poor” means. It means that one most likely doesn’t have sufficient disposable income with which to invest in an annuity to support themselves in the event of catastrophic illness or their retirement.“Community spouse” is Medicaid lingo for the husband or wife of a Medicaid applicant. To qualify as a community spouse, there are two simple requirements. First, you must be the husband or wife of an “institutionalized spouse,” meaning a person who resides in a medical institution or nursing facility and is “likely to remain there for at least 30 consecutive days.” Second, you cannot also be receiving long term care in a medical institution or nursing facility.
- H.R. 829, The Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable Over Lottery Winners Act of 2017, authored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), would alter how Medicaid eligibility is determined for lottery jackpot winners, so the program can prioritize the low-income population the program is meant to serve.What is with these guys? Do they actually believe someone who wins the lottery lives for the day to hear someone scream at the to ” stop sucking on the government teet”?
According to Chairman Burgess, “The Health Subcommittee reviewed both of these commonsense proposals this week and held a productive discussion. I look forward to discussing these bills further next week as we continue to advance ways to rebuild our health care system.”
Full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) also announced that the Health Subcommittee will consider H.R. 749, a bill to increase competition in the pharmaceutical industry, later this month.
“Following up on the president’s call to make prescription drugs more affordable for Americans, the Energy and Commerce Committee is eager to move forward with consideration of bipartisan legislation, H.R. 749, offered by Reps. Kurt Schrader and Gus Bilirakis. This bill will increase competition in the pharmaceutical industry and will play an important role in our efforts to lower the high cost of some medicines. However, to accommodate a formal request from our Democrat colleagues to slow down consideration of this measure, I have agreed to consider it at a future hearing.” — Chairman Walden
Health Insurance Marketplace: Also happening on Tuesday, the Small Business Committee will hold a hearing at 11am. The stated purpose of the hearing is to examine the current health insurance marketplace for small firms, review recent difficulties, and explore options to improve access, affordability, and consistency in America’s health insurance market.
Confirmation vote in the Senate for Tom Price: The Senate is expected to vote as early as this week to confirm Dr. Tom Price (R-GA)—or, in Speaker Ryan’s words, “the absolute perfect choice.” Speaker Ryan believes (despite what real people across America believe) that confirming Dr. Price, who would have authority to demolish the ACA and its protections for Americans (especially women), will be a giant step forward for Americans struggling under Obamacare.
If you haven’t explored what Speaker Ryan thinks is a “better way” to handle healthcare across America, check out his significantly less that better way HERE which let’s you buy plans from some other state than yours that won’t cover you when you get sick, but hey, it’s affordable? Oh, and you can just fund your own care using a health savings account for that triple bypass surgery you’re gonna need next year, all while making $7.25/hr, buying a car to get to work, insuring said car and putting gas in the tank; paying the rent and utilities; putting food on the table and clothes on your back; and oh yeah, saving for your eventual retirement when you turn 899 years old.
Confirmation vote in the Senate for Betsy DeVos: All 48 Democratic senators are expected to vote against Betsy DeVos, Trump’s outrageous and unqualified pick to lead the Department of Education. She opposes public schools, challenged federal protections for students with disabilities, and made no commitment to protecting LGBT students in her hearing. But that’s not all. DeVos’ support for vouchers could drain public schools of desperately needed resources and divert them to private and religious schools. DeVos could embolden unaccountable private and religious schools through a voucher system, depriving some students of civil rights protections they would otherwise get in public schools and using taxpayer dollars to fund the religious education of students.
DeVos could not be less qualified for this position. She’s never taught at a public school. She hasn’t served on a school board, nor did she or any of her children attend public schools. She has spent much of her life and inherited money lobbying for unregulated, for-profit charter schools and other destructive policies that hurt students, teachers and families in her home state of Michigan.
Senate Democrats will be forcing an all-night session to oppose her confirmation. Two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME), have indicated they will also vote against Ms. DeVos. That brings the NAY votes talley to 50. Democrats haven’t given up and will take to the Senate floor in a last-ditch effort to derail the confirmation of Ms DeVos. They mean to find a 51st NAY vote and not allow Vice President Pence to cast a record-breaking, tie-breaker vote to confirm her.
The Administration’s Muslim ban on hold, for now –> Late Friday, a federal judge in Seattle suspended Trump’s Muslim immigration ban and over the weekend an appeals court in San Francisco refused to put an immediate stay on that suspension — meaning, essentially, that for the time being, airports are operating as they were before the ban was issued. Legal battles will play out this week to determine the ban’s future, Dustin Volz reports for Reuters: “The government has until 3 p.m. PST (2300 GMT) on Monday to submit additional legal briefs to the appeals court justifying Trump’s executive order. Following that the court is expected to act quickly, and a decision either way may ultimately result in the case reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Silicon Valley steps up opposition –> Mark Bergen and Sarah Frier report for Bloomberg Technology that late Sunday night, 97 companies, including tech giants Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Netflix and Uber, and some non-tech companies, such as Chobani yogurt and Levi-Straus, filed an amicus brief against Trump’s Muslim immigration ban. They write: “America has long recognized the importance of protecting ourselves against those who would do us harm. But it has done so while maintaining our fundamental commitment to welcoming immigrants—through increased background checks and other controls on people seeking to enter our country.”
Financial deregulation rolls forward —> Following on Trump’s Friday executive order to review the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, we can expect a rollback of the protections put in place after the 2008 financial crisis in the months ahead. The push will be lead by Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic advisor and former Goldman Sachs president. At The New York Times, Roosevelt Institute’s Mike Konczal writes: “People hoping Mr. Trump would upset, rather than restore, global financial capitalism are in for a rude awakening.”
Voter Fraud Investigation —>Trump said in remarks broadcast on Sunday that he would put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of a commission to probe what he believes was voter fraud in last November’s election. The irony of that is astounding, in that Pence was accused of voter suppression as Governor of Indiana, when a week before the state’s voter registration deadline, police seized computers, cell phones and thousands of voter registration applications. An estimated 45,000 Indianans were prevented from voting as their registration applications had been seized and not recorded.
Trump Standing Up for Bad Bankers
The best way to spot a con artist is by paying attention to what you don’t see, as well as to what you see. Trump says he represents working people, but he has already moved aggressively to tilt the scales in favor of Wall Street’s criminal elite. As Trump moved to rob Americans of some basic financial protections, his choice of companions only added insult to injury.
It’s notable that Trump has actually been deepening the swamp. Key members of hisbudget transition team used to work at the big business friendly Heritage Foundation, and reports indicate Trump’s scandalous budget proposal, expected in the coming weeks, will be based on these radically conservative blueprints. Here’s what to expect:
- Privatization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
- Offering massive handouts to large corporations
- Means-testing and cutting Social Security benefits
- Raising the retirement age
- Privatizating/Voucherizing Medicare
- Block granting Medicaid with ever decreasing grant values (essentially rationing healthcare for the poor)
- Eliminating funding for Violence Against Women grants as well as community policing and legal aid for poorer Americans
- Scrapping funding for the Paris agreement on climate change and offices devoted to energy efficiency and reducing fossil fuel emissions
- Reducing funding for civil rights enforcement and community policing
- Eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities
- Slashing food and housing assistance for the impoverished
- Repealing common-sense rules on Wall Street banks (anticipate finding ourselves back in that same sink hole the GWB administration drove us into)
Some Democrats will face the temptation to compromise in order to show their friends at Washington cocktail parties that they are “serious” about spending. However, we don’t have a spending problem. We have a defense spending problem (57% of discretionary spending + another 5-7% for Veterans Administration). If Democrats cave, they will be complicit in making America sicker, poorer, less prosperous and less well-educated. It’s well passed time that we declare, in no uncertain terms — Democrats must do everything in their power to resist the Republican cuts.