Thursday, July 27, 2017

GOP Bid for 'Skinny Repeal' Fails

A Capitol employee pushes a bed past the Senate chamber toward Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s offices in the Capitol on Thursday.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

UPDATE: Obamacare Repeal Fails: Three GOP Senators Rebel in 49-51 Vote
By Leigh Ann Caldwell
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans failed to pass a pared-down Obamacare repeal bill early Friday on a vote of 49-51 that saw three of their own dramatically break ranks.
Three Republican senators — John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — and all Democrats voted against the bill, dealing a stinging defeat to Republicans and President Donald Trump who made repeal of Obamacare a cornerstone their campaigns.
The late-night debate capped the GOP's months-long effort to fulfill a seven-year promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
NBC News

Leadership in both chambers of Congress seemed hell-bent Thursday, July 27, upon repealing and/or replacing the Affordable Care Act within the next few days. It is impossible to predict with any accuracy just what the “replacement” might be, because several options from awful to even worse than awful are being discussed.


United Vision for Idaho and our partners and affiliated organizations hope you will be actively calling elected officials to urge them not to do anything that would destroy healthcare protection for millions (estimates range from 22 million to 34 million, to “God only knows,” depending upon which idea is being discussed).
Keep this contact information handy to reach Idaho senators:
Mike Crapo
(202) 224-6142

Jim Risch
(202) 224-2752

In addition, we offer the links below to resources through which you can keep track of the processes in the Senate and, possibly, the House of Representatives. So far, Republicans in the Senate have been unable to get the votes needed to pursue any avenue of “replacement” of the ACA. If that should change, however, the House has been advised their planned month-long August recess may be cut short, and members and staffers in both the Senate and the House have been urged to stay “flexible” in travel plans this weekend.

Here are some ways to track the votes
The Guardian's live updates on the Senate vote-a-rama healthcare marathon is here.
The New York Times record of voting on Affordable Care Act measures is here.
Reuters reports on the so-called skinny healthcare bill here.
The official Senate record on roll call votes (on everything) is here.
The Congressional Quarterly/Roll Call explanation of what’s at stake in the “skinny healthcare bill” is here. The Five Thirty-Eight Live Blog on the Senate’s healthcare deliberations is here.
Business Insider comparative analysis of relative costs of healthcare proposals under discussion in the Senate is here.
The Indivisible Guide to calls to members of the Senate, complete with script suggestions, is here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

With Healthcare 3.0 Dead, GOP Turns to Budget

President Donald Trump says let Obamacare fail.

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) admitted defeat on a half-baked outline for healthcare reform his own party rejects, and with little chance of winning even highly touted repeal of the Affordable Care Act with a two-year window for replacement legislation, Republicans in the House of Representatives returned Tuesday, July 18, to draconian budget cuts for federal spending in the next decade to accompany deregulation and other proposals by President Donald J. Trump’s administration. The Congressional Budget Office has already declared the stated GOP objectives unobtainable, even though they ignore some of the White House notions.
Republican Senators Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Susan Collins (Maine) said on Tuesday that they would not support moving forward on McConnell’s plan to repeal Obamacare now with a two-year window for replacement. The Republican Senate majority is widely divided, with some supporting stronger and better coverage, paid for by broader-based revenues from tax restructuring, while some insist on no-frills coverage with more responsibility thrown onto states while reducing the federal tax burden to pay for it. Having already tried and failed to overturn the program for more than eight years with nothing to put in its place, prospects of doing that now, even with a Republican majority in Congress and a Republican president remain out of reach.
The CBO projected that the sweeping spending reductions on anti-poverty programs, housing, environmental protection and other cuts proposed by the White House would still not be enough to eliminate the deficit by 2027. By then, the office says, there would still be a $720 billion deficit under the White House's plan, rather than the surplus proponents have claimed would result from revenue growth. The Washington Post says the difference represents a gap of more than $700 billion in just one year between the CBO assessment and White House projections. Even if House and Senate Republicans agreed to back Trump’s cuts, they would meet universal opposition from Democrats. And while the budget measure could be adopted with a simple majority, using only Republican votes, a separate funding bill needs 60 votes in a Senate where the GOP holds 52 seats out of 100.


Even apart from the cuts in Medicaid spending proposed under failed House and Senate attempts to redraw healthcare legislation, the Trump Administration’s budget cuts would mean major reductions in spending for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, as well as cuts in subsidies to the states to conduct those programs, also cutting the number of people who qualify for them. The budget seeks to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food stamps, by $190 billion and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grants by $15.6 billion. It also proposes $40 billion in savings by barring undocumented immigrants from collecting the child care tax credit or the earned-income tax credit. It would also cut $72 billion from the budget for Social Security disability recipients.
Despite optimism voiced by some Republican representatives, the budget as submitted is considered unlikely to get very far, even if it gets out of committee. This is primarily because the White House scheme includes an unlikely estimate for revenue growth from “economic feedback” that have been touted as yielding $2 trillion more than otherwise forecast in revenue growth. To make that happen, the economy would need to grow at least 3 percent annually – a pace most economists say is unrealistic. Trump himself had previously boasted of a 4 percent GDP growth prospect. More pragmatic estimates refute both possibilities.

Congress turns to huge cuts in the federal budget, reported by the Washington Post here. And amplified by The New York Times report on failure of the GOP healthcare plan here.
House-proposed budget cuts largely ignore Administration plans to gut social programs, Bloomberg reports.
GOP Senate opponents of plans to repeal Obamacare and work on replacement over two years effectively kill McConnell’s “grand plan,” The Hill reports.
Key spending cuts proposed are listed here.
The Congressional Budget Office scoring of House budget proposals is here.
Most realistic GDP growth estimates, including the widely respected Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s “GDP Now, “predict growth of less than 2 percent over the next decade, The New York Times reports.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Marchers in Boise Support Stronger Healthcare For All

Idaho Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-18, Boise) urges those at the March and Rally for Healthcare in Boise to prevent America’s healthcare from reflecting the cynical dystopian notions of “Planet Raul.

They came by the hundreds, despite the heat, marching, in wheelchairs, on bikes, taking to the steps of the Capital, to the streets of Boise, and to the relatively cooler surroundings at the Ann Frank Memorial Saturday, July 15, to tell their stories and encourage the continuing effort to thwart the cynical political attempt to destroy what limited healthcare protections Americans have, while making things better for themselves and providing huge tax breaks to the very wealthy.
As the Senate struggles to pass off Trumpcare 3.0, it is increasingly important that we keep up the pressure on our elected officials, at the state level, as well as in Congress, to resist cynical partisanship and false political loyalties and stand up for the fundamental right that healthcare represents.
There is no rational excuse for pushing America backward as the only advanced nation on Earth without national healthcare insurance protections. Rather than make things worse, as the latest Senate effort does, our elected representatives should be working to strengthen and improve the system.
Add your voice: Contact your elected officials and keep pressing them to do the right thing for healthcare. Contact information is here.

For more information about the healthcare challenge, click here.

The impact of inadequate healthcare policies is bad for everyone, as Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-18, Boise) explained to those who rallied for healthcare Saturday, July 15, at the Ann Frank Memorial in Boise.
Idaho Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee/Facebook

Thursday, July 13, 2017

GOP Senators Skirmish Over Yet Another Healthcare Plan

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tells reporters on Thursday he will now back the latest version of a Senate bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, after an amendment he's been pushing was accepted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Cruz proposal, modified from an earlier version endorsed by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), would create a fund that would help insurance providers cover people with higher medical costs, but to qualify, insurers would have to offer at least one plan that fully complies with all of Obamacare's regulations. Once they do that, they would be able to offer other "bare bones" policies that do not meet all of Obamacare's requirements, thus providing cheaper options to younger and healthier individuals.

Senate Republicans have offered yet another sketchy notion of how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The most recent outline, pushed out Thursday, July 13, by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and not yet reviewed and “scored” by the Congressional Budget Office, was promptly challenged by Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-South Carolina), and Sen. Bill Cassidy, (R-Louisiana), who are promoting an alternative approach that would leave much of the actual work of determining what kinds of health insurance would be offered and how it would be paid for up to individual states.
None of the proposals address the steep cuts in Medicaid funding proposed in the bill offered before the Senate’s July 4 break, making it unlikely that any of the latest ideas will make it to a vote without considerable revision and development into bill form. Conflicting proposals and objections by other senators, notably Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), make a vote on anything even less likely. With two no votes, Vice President Mike Pence could provide the 51st vote needed for passage. But if three Republican senators defect, as seems increasingly likely, the bill cannot pass as proposed.
One alternative idea floated immediately was the prospect of making “no-frills” health insurance coverage available to hold down premiums. Doing so, however, would again raise the prospect of no coverage or insufficient coverage for pre-existing conditions. Such plans do not meet minimum standards of the current ACA, and insurers currently can’t force customers with serious illnesses to pay higher premiums. A current obligation to cover specific “essential health benefits” could also be lost in the new GOP proposals. The Congressional Budget Office assessment of the previous Senate “wish list” for healthcare funding would throw at least 22 million people off health insurance, cut $770 billion from Medicaid and greatly increase premiums and deductibles for those who can afford to stay in the health insurance market. The new plan restores $45 billion to fund programs to fight opioid abuse, but the fiscal impact of other notions released Thursday probably won’t be known before Monday, July 17, at the earliest.


Changes in the Senate’s attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act are outlined here.
Strong opposition could kill any prospect of a vote on the new proposal, Politico reports.
The latest healthcare proposals could mean much higher premiums for people who need more thorough coverage for preexisting conditions, the Kaiser Family Foundation says. A New York Times graphic outlining what’s dividing senators on healthcare proposals is here.
Winning support from Republican governors will be key to adoption of insurance law changed that would leave much of the actual work to the individual states, the Washington Post reports.