When Congress returns from its August recess on Tuesday, there will be bipartisan efforts in both the House and Senate to find workable solutions to the real problems in our healthcare system. Unfortunately, Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy continues to push an ultra-partisan bill that would destroy the Medicaid program and cause millions of Americans to lose their health insurance. The LBP’s senior policy analyst, Jeanie Donovan explains that Cassidy should take a cue from his colleagues:
Perhaps most importantly, neither the House or Senate bipartisan efforts call for changes or cuts to Medicaid. The Cassidy-Graham proposal, on the other hand, would cap and cut the traditional Medicaid program and eliminate funding for Medicaid expansion. The Cassidy-Graham bill also eliminates the ACA’s premium tax credits that help moderate-income consumers buy private insurance. In the place of funding for expansion and the premium tax credits, states would be given a block grant that would not adjust for population growth or medical inflation, so would grow increasingly inadequate over time.
Louisiana is hardly the only state that would suffer under the Cassidy-Graham bill. Florida, for example, stands to lose almost $10 billion in federal Medicaid funding by 2026. Coverage:
“So we’re talking about clearly knocking off a bunch of folks from insurance because they otherwise would not be able to afford these plans,” said Anne Swerlick, an analyst with the Florida Policy Institute.
The editorial board from the Bangor Daily News was also less than impressed:.
Some Senate Republicans took the lesson they should have from their party’s Obamacare repeal failure: that their energy is better spent working with Senate Democrats on tweaks to the 2010 health care law. Cassidy and his colleagues — who have been working with the White House on this repeal attempt — apparently didn’t. They’ve managed to assemble an Obamacare repeal package that retains some of the objectionable elements of previous repeal attempts that motivated Maine Sen. Susan Collins’ opposition. Plus, their repeal proposal offers a new twist on a strategy to cancel many of the Obamacare’s coverage gains.
Medicaid waiver overhaul
Section 1115 of the Social Security Act gives states the flexibility to tinker with their Medicaid progras through “demonstration” projects. The only catch is that these waivers must be used to “cover people who wouldn’t otherwise be eligible for coverage, provide additional benefits not usually covered under Medicaid, and implement innovative payment and delivery system reforms.” But the rules could be changing under President Donald Trump. The administration issued new guidance to states in a March letter that could clear the way for states to restrict coverage rather than expand it. Judith Solomon and Jessica Schubel from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explain:
The Trump Administration has not revised the criteria for approval of demonstration projects, but the letter that Secretary Price and CMS Administrator Verma sent to governors earlier this year suggests that it will favorably consider work requirements and enforceable premiums for people with incomes below the poverty line, despite past disapprovals of such measures. In response, some states have proposed or are considering work requirements and enforceable premiums for people with incomes below the poverty line, as well as waivers that go beyond the areas highlighted in the Price-Verma letter.
In virtually every case, the current proposals to require work or drug testing, impose time limits, or cut people off for procedural reasons would result in fewer people being covered with the waiver than without it, in direct conflict with Medicaid’s objectives — as well as with the requirement that waiver proposals not weaken coverage.
DACA decision looms
President Donald Trump faces a Sept. 5 deadline to decide what to do about so-called “dreamers” – undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. The deadline was set by a group of 10 attorneys general, including Louisiana’s Jeff Landry, who want Trump to rescind an Obama-era executive order that protects the dreamers. With Congress already facing a full docket when it returns from August recess, it seems unlikely that lawmakers will be able to meet the Sept. 5 deadline imposed by the group of attorneys general. CNN’s Tal Kopan explains:
Trump is said to be weighing two options on DACA that would continue protections, but would prevent future applicants and possibly renewals of the two-year permits, according to a source close to the White House and Congress. …”It’s a decision that I make and it’s a decision that’s very, very hard to make. I really understand the situation now,” Trump said in a conversation with reporters on Air Force One last month. “I understand the situation very well. What I’d like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan. But our country and political forces are not ready yet.”
Since 2012, DACA has allowed more than 750,000 dreamers greater opportunities to higher education and economic security. But as the Los Angeles Times editorial board explains, negative stereotypes about the program persist.
Despite the assertions of many of Trump’s supporters, DACA is not an amnesty program (because it offers no permanent relief). It allows some breathing room for people caught up in circumstances not of their own making until Congress can figure out a humane reboot of the nation’s dysfunctional immigration system. To receive DACA protection, applicants must be enrolled in or have graduated from high school or college, or have been honorably discharged from the armed services; they must have been under age 31 as of June 15, 2012, and have arrived in the U.S. before turning age 16; and they must have no significant criminal conviction and not be a member of a gang, among other criteria.
Unions under attack
Public opinion of trade unions has fluctuated since the American union movement began more than 130 years ago. But it appears as though more people are becoming aware of the crucial role that unions play in representing workers. A union’s most important role is to develop and enforce collective bargaining agreements between employees and employers. However, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the rights of public-sector union workers are under attack.
But it is precisely because they are effective and necessary for shared prosperity that unions are under attack by employers who want to maintain excessive leverage over workers and by policymakers representing the interests of the top 1 percent. These attacks have succeeded in increasing the gap between the number of workers who would like to be represented by a union and the number who are represented by a union. And these threats to the freedom to join together in unions haven’t been met with a policy response sufficient to keep the playing field level between organizing workers and the employers looking to thwart them.
Number of the Day
55 – Percentage of 18- to 29-year-old workers who have a favorable view of unions. Only 46 percent of workers age 30 and older have a favorable view of unions. (Source: Pew Research Center)