Category Archives: Budgets

AZ Court of Appeals upholds Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan

The Arizona Court of Appeals has affirmed the Maricopa County Superior Court decision upholding former governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan in 2013. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Arizona appeals court says Medicaid expansion law is constitutional:

The appellate court in its opinion (.pdf) said the law imposed an assessment that is exempt from the requirement that any act by lawmakers increasing state revenues, such a tax hike, must get a two-thirds vote in the Legislature [the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” amendment, Prop. 108 (1992)].

The health care law was approved by a simple majority.

At issue is the assessment on hospitals, which the state uses to draw down matching federal funds.

The law has allowed Arizona to expand eligibility to residents who earn between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

In 2015, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Douglas Gerlach also upheld the law, ruling that the hospital assessment that funds the program is not subject to Arizona Constitution’s supermajority provision.

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Plenty of blame to go around

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

Let me first say that I have much respect for Richard Gilman of “Bringing Up Arizona” and the work he has done on behalf of public education. I also very much appreciate his gracious support of my work and wish him well as he moves on to a new chapter of his life.

I did find much though, in his last blog post, to disagree with. It shouldn’t have surprised me, as the last time he and I had lunch, it was pretty clear he was frustrated. I tried to allay his concerns, but obviously, failed. It’s not that I don’t agree with his position that “the status quo in K–12 education is not acceptable. Of course I do. We have the lowest paid teachers in the nation, our per-pupil funding ranks 48th, and our education performance ranking isn’t much better. I do not agree though, that ”the onus belongs as much or more on public school administrators.” School administrators are after all, busy managing their schools and school districts. They are busy focusing on their students and the teachers educating them. That’s where their focus should be. Continue reading

Trump’s militaristic budget comes at the expense of the poor that he said he wanted to help

Donald Trump’s xenophobic white nationalist “America First” campaign from his alt-right Rasputin, Steve Bannon, has now produced a “fortress America” militaristic budget that comes at the expense of every other aspect of the federal government, and particularly at the expense of America’s poor, the very people Trump claimed he wanted to help during his campaign.

This budget comes before Trump has even rolled out his yuuuge tax cut plan to benefit himself and his wealthy Plutocrat friends — a tax expenditure that will: (a) require deeper budget cuts than those he has proposed, and or (b) explode the federal deficit, because faith based supply-side “trickle down” GOP economics does not work. It is the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on the American people.

The only saving grace is that the president’s budget, Democrat or Republican, has been dead on arrival in Congress in recent American history. There is little or no chance that Trump’s proposed budget will be the actual budget eventually produced by Congress.

The Washington Post today has numerous reports breaking down Trump’s proposed budget. “President Trump’s first budget proposes a $54 billion increase in military spending while seeking significant cuts across much of the rest of the federal government, including reductions of more than 20 percent at the departments of Agriculture, Labor and State, and more than 30 percent at the Environmental Protection Agency.” Plan calls for reductions in spending for science, diplomacy and the poor.

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GOP’s ‘Obamacare’ repeal bill threatens public health in Arizona

Debate over the GOP’s American Health Care Act largely focuses on how the bill seeks to remake private-sector insurance and the Medicaid program for low-income and disabled people, but a less-publicized provision of the bill would eliminate a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fund of nearly $1 billion that sustains public health programs nationwide. GOP health bill would cut nearly $47 million in Arizona public health funds:

Arizona could lose $46.8 million in federal public health funding over the next five years via a cut included in the House Republican health bill, likely forcing local health departments to reduce or cut public health programs.

The Arizona Department of Health Services received $9.3 million this fiscal year from the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The money is included in the Affordable Care Act, but the GOP plan that cleared two House committees last week would discontinue funding next fiscal year.

The fund pays for program such as providing childhood immunizations and counteracting emerging public health threats such as the Zika and Ebola viruses. It also helps pay for efforts to curb childhood lead poisoning, fight heart disease, manage diabetes, promote skin-cancer awareness and smoking cessation.

“This funding is in danger,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “There is no guarantee these programs would continue.”

Christ noted that money for many of these public health programs was allotted before the Affordable Care Act became the nation’s health law in 2010, so she is hopeful that Congress will restore funding even though the GOP bill, as written, would eliminate it next fiscal year.

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OMB preliminary analysis is in line with CBO analysis of GOP’s ‘Obamacare’ repeal bill

A White House preliminary analysis of the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare shows even steeper coverage losses than the projections by the Congressional Budget Office, according to a document viewed by POLITICO on Monday. White House analysis of Obamacare repeal sees even deeper insurance losses than CBO:

The preliminary analysis from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) forecast that 26 million people would lose coverage over the next decade, versus the 24 million CBO estimates. The White House has made efforts to discredit the forecasts from the nonpartisan CBO.

White House officials late Monday night disputed that the document is an analysis of the bill’s coverage effects. Instead, they say it was an attempt by the OMB to predict what CBO’s scorekeepers would conclude about the GOP repeal plan.

“This is not an analysis of the bill in any way whatsoever,” White House Communications Director Michael Dubke told POLITICO. “This is OMB trying to project what CBO’s score will be using CBO’s methodology.”

In that case, the OMB closely approximated what the CBO analysis says using its congressionally mandated “dynamic scoring” method, which lends credibility to the CBO report, rather than discredit it. CBO was more conservative in its estimate.

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CBO scores GOP ‘Obamacare’ repeal: 24 million would lose health care insurance (updated)

Just as anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of health care policy had predicted, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) today scored the GOP “Obamacare repeal” bill aka Ryancare Trumpcare, and finds that the Obamacare revision would reduce insured numbers by 24 million:

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s proposal to revise the Affordable Care Act would lower the number of Americans with health insurance by 24 million while reducing the federal deficit by $337 billion by 2026*, congressional budget analysts said Monday.

[This is dynamic scoring required by the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act of 2014 to make long-term budgetary effects appear better. See Paul Krugman on dynamic scoring, Selective Voodoo.]

UPDATE: The way the bill achieves the 10% lower average premiums has little to do with increased choice and competition. It depends on penalizing older patients and rewarding younger ones. According to the CBO report, the bill would make health insurance so unaffordable for many older Americans that they would simply leave the market and join the ranks of the uninsured. No Magic in How G.O.P. Plan Lowers Premiums: It Penalizes Older People.

The report from the Congressional Budget Office underscores the dramatic loss in health insurance coverage that would take place if the GOP health-care plan is enacted, potentially contradicting President Trump’s vow that the plan would provide “insurance for everybody” and threatening support from moderate Republican lawmakers.

Fourteen million people would lose health coverage next year alone, the report stated. Premiums would be 15 to 20 percent higher in the first year compared to the ACA, and 10 percent lower on average after 2026. By and large, older Americans would pay “substantially” more and younger Americans less, the report states.

No wonder Donald Trump does’t want the GOP plan to be called “Trumpcare.” White House: Don’t call it Trumpcare. This grifter and con man literally brands his name on every product imaginable, so how bad does this GOP bill have to be for him to say “sorry, no“?

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