Category Archives: Healthcare

Action Alert: you have until September 30 to kill this zombie ‘Trumpcare’ bill

The Senate parliamentarian told senators that Tea-Publicans’ ability to pass an Obamacare replacement with just 51 votes expires at the end of September. Repealing Obamacare Just Got Even More Complicated. It was not entirely clear to me whether the Continuing Resolution (CR) that Congress passed a couple of weeks ago would extend this deadline, but everything I have read since indicates that the September 30 deadline remains in effect.

OK, zombie hunters. Last week Tea-Publicans introduced their desperation zombie “Trumpcare” bill. You know what you have to do.

Steve Benen explains, The final fight of the Republican health care crusade has arrived:

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) formally unveiled the only remaining Republican plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system.

NBC News obtained an advanced draft of the proposal, which has been percolating for a couple of months.

The 23-page summary draft and an explanation of funding, which Graham’s office confirmed is authentic, attempts to achieve parity in federal funding between states that expanded Medicaid and those that did not by 2026. That division was one that helped to kill the Senate’s efforts because senators from expansion states tended to oppose the legislation in its previous versions due to the roll-back of the Medicaid expansion.

The bill also provides federal money to states to implement their own health care plan as opposed to one system for all 50 states that exists under Obamacare.

We’ve discussed many of the profound flaws in this plan before, and we can go into more detail once the legislation is available for scrutiny. For now, however, let’s consider whether the Graham-Cassidy plan has a credible chance at success.

Note: There are at least 46 Tea-Publicans who would vote for a blank piece of paper, sight unseen, if they are told it repeals Obamacare,  consequences to Americans, the health care system, and the economy be damned.

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Arizona Supreme Court to hear appeal of Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan

Earlier this year, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the Maricopa County Superior Court decision upholding former governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan in 2013. AZ Court of Appeals upholds Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan.

The “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, which is litigating the case on behalf of our lawless Tea-Publican legislators who are parties to this lawsuit, of course appealed the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan goes to Arizona Supreme Court.

The Arizona Supreme Court has now said it will hear the appeal. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, AZ Supreme Court to decide on Medicaid tax:

The state’s high court agreed Tuesday to decide whether a levy that funds Arizona’s expanded Medicaid program was illegally enacted.

Without comment, the justices said they want to give foes of the levy — current and former state lawmakers — a chance to make the case that it really is a tax.

What the court decides will be significant, as it takes a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to raise taxes [the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” Amendment, Prop. 108 (1992)]. . And since the measure did not get that margin, a finding that the levy actually is a tax would mean the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, could no longer collect it.

More significant, without the approximately $265 million being collected each year, the state could no longer afford to provide care to about 400,000 Arizonans who were added to the plan as a result of the 2013 action.

Tuesday’s action does not mean the justices have already reached a conclusion. But just the decision to review lower court ruling upholding the legality of the levy places it in potential jeopardy.

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Alternative paths to universal health care coverage

The Hill reports that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to unveil ‘Medicare for all’ bill on Wednesday:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will unveil his “Medicare for all” bill on Wednesday[.]

The advisory from his office says that Sanders will be joined by Senate co-sponsors, though does not list who they are. He will also be joined by “medical professionals, business leaders, and patients.”

The issue has emerged as a key test for 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls.

In fact, the Washington Post reports today that The dam is breaking on Democrats’ embrace of single-payer:

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) became the fourth co-sponsor of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) “Medicare for all” health-care bill Monday. In doing so, he joined Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.).

What do those four senators have in common? Well, they just happen to constitute four of the eight most likely 2020 Democratic presidential nominees, according to the handy list I put out Friday. And another senator in my top 8, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), last month came out in favor of the idea of “Medicare for all” — though not this specific bill (yet).

This is about as far from a coincidence as you can get. And it suggests the dam is breaking when it comes to the Democratic Party embracing government-run health care, also known as single-payer.

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Contradictions and confusion over fate of ‘Obamacare’

Recent reporting on the fate of “Obamacare” has been both contradictory and confusing to anyone trying to follow the machinations of Congress and the Trump White House.

Tom Price at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), a Teabagger opponent of “Obamacare,” continues his efforts to sabotage “Obamacare.” The Same Agency That Runs Obamacare Is Using Taxpayer Money to Undermine It:

The Trump administration said on Thursday that it would slash spending on advertising and promotion for the Affordable Care Act, but it has already been waging a multipronged campaign against it.

* * *

[T]he Department of Health and Human Services — an agency with a legal responsibility to administer the law — has used taxpayer dollars to oppose it.

Legal experts say that while it is common for a new administration to reinterpret an existing law, it is unusual to take steps to undermine it. Here are three ways the health department has campaigned against Obamacare. [Quick Summary]

1. REDIRECTING PROMOTIONAL FUNDING

Instead of using its outreach budget to promote the Affordable Care Act, the department made videos critical of the law.

2. ATTACKING THE LAW

The department targeted the Affordable Care Act with a marketing campaign as Republicans in Congress tried to repeal the legislation.

3. DELETING INFORMATION ONLINE

The department removed useful guidance for consumers about the Affordable Care Act from its website.

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12 days in September: a potential disaster-in-the-making

Congress has scheduled only 12 working days in September. The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman recently laid out the disaster-in-the-making that the month of September may bring. Republicans are heading for a hellish month. Trump will only make it worse.

Republicans are facing an extraordinary period on Capitol Hill, one which will require work, skill, care and luck to navigate successfully.

Even in the best of circumstances, it would be an incredibly difficult challenge. But it will be made even harder by the fact that the person who should be their greatest asset — the president — is in fact their greatest impediment.

Here’s a quick list of what Republicans are facing over the next six weeks:

  • If Congress doesn’t pass a budget bill by the end of September, the government will shut down.
  • If Congress doesn’t pass an increase in the debt ceiling by the end of September, the United States will default on its debts, potentially triggering a global financial crisis.
  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which insures about 9 million children, needs to be reauthorized by the end of September.
  • The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) needs to be reauthorized by the end of September.
  • Republicans want to pass sweeping tax reform as soon as possible.
  • The White House still wants to pass an infrastructure bill.
  • Many Republicans in Congress still want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and conservatives in the House are attempting to force a vote on full repeal, reigniting the debate that was so disastrous for them.

How is President Trump confronting this set of challenges?

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doubts Trump will be able to salvage his administration

The New York Times reports tonight on the fissures that have opened up between President Trump and the GOP leadership over their agenda.

President Trump and the Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle Mitch McConnell “are locked in a political cold war” that could have serious consequences for the country when Congress returns to a  long “must do” list in September. McConnell, in Private, Doubts if Trump Can Save Presidency:

The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.

What was once an uneasy governing alliance has curdled into a feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility, complicated by the position of Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine L. Chao, in Mr. Trump’s cabinet, according to more than a dozen people briefed on their imperiled partnership. Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to their defense.

The rupture between Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell comes at a highly perilous moment for Republicans, who face a number of urgent deadlines when they return to Washington next month. Congress must approve new spending measures and raise the statutory limit on government borrowing within weeks of reconvening, and Republicans are hoping to push through an elaborate rewrite of the federal tax code. There is scant room for legislative error on any front.

A protracted government shutdown or a default on sovereign debt could be disastrous — for the economy and for the party that controls the White House and both chambers of Congress.

Yet Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell are locked in a political cold war.

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