Category Archives: Healthcare

#AZLeg Passes Landmark, Bipartisan Opioid Bill

There were a lot of conversations going on in advance of the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act.

January 25, 2018 was one of the most dramatic days at the Arizona Legislature, since I was elected.

Not only did we have ~75 Luchadores visiting their Legislators and five extremely aggressive anti-immigrant, pro-Trump protesters heckling them, we also had the big vote on the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act (SB1001).

We have been working on SB1001/HB2001 for weeks. Unlike much of what we do in the Arizona Legislature, the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act was a truly bipartisan effort. The governor even gave the Democrats the bill language in advance and asked for our input. The Republicans included us in the bill development process because they needed our votes and because didn’t want us to blow it up on the floor with our speechifying, as we did with the stingy TANF and teacher raises in 2017.

As someone who worked in public health and nicotine addiction treatment for years, I was proud to serve on the Democratic Caucus team that reviewed the bill and offered suggestions for revision. It was very heartening that they included several Democratic ideas in this bill. Four of my suggestions were included: offering treatment instead of jail during an overdose situation, AKA the 911 Good Samaritan bill (HB2101), which has been proposed by Democrats for four years in a row; providing funds to counties for life-saving NARCAN kits (HB2201); providing a non-commercial treatment referral service; and offering treatment in a brief intervention after an overdose scare (when your doctor says, “You didn’t die this time. Maybe you should quit!”). The Democrats also suggested including the Angel Initiative (where addicts can drop off their drugs and ask for treatment, without fear of arrest) and $10 million for drug addiction treatment services for people not on AHCCCS (Medicaid) or private insurance.

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Bipartisan Senate rejection of House GOP spending bill leads to ‘shit-show’ shutdown

We have a dysfunctional government because Tea-Publicans are in charge. They do not believe in government, only the control of absolute power, and they possess no demonstrable skills at governing responsibly or effectively.

Late last night, a bipartisan vote of the Senate rejected the House GOP short-term spending bill (CR) on a vote of 50-49, well short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed under the Senate’s cloture rules. Of course, the House GOP leadership knew its CR bill, negotiated only among the competing factions of the GOP to the exclusion of any Democrats, was DOA on arrival in the Senate where Democratic votes would be necessary to pass it, even before the House held a vote on its CR bill. It was political gamesmanship and brinksmanship designed to provide propaganda talking points to the conservative media entertainment complex in an election year. Senate rejects funding bill, partial shutdown begins:

Senators voted late Friday to reject a House-passed bill that would have funded the government until Feb. 16, beginning a partial government shutdown.

Most Democrats voted to block the bill as part of a risky strategy to force Republicans to negotiate with them on a legislative fix for “Dreamers,” immigrants who illegally came to the country at a young age and now face the prospect of deportation. The procedural motion on the bill failed 50-49.

Only five Democrats voted to advance the bill — Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.), who are all up for reelection this year in states carried by President Trump in 2016 election, and newly elected Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.).

Republicans were also not united, as Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) also voted against advancing the legislation. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is battling brain cancer, was absent.

The procedural vote remained open for roughly two hours on Friday night, remaining well below the needed 60 votes to pass.

What should have happened next is that the Senate GOP leadership walk over to the House side and bitch slap House Speaker Paul Ryan and his lieutenants for sending them a bill that they knew was DOA on arrival in the Senate. “Stop wasting our time!”

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The ‘shit-show’ shutdown is because of Donald Trump’s racist white nationalism

House GOP leaders found enough votes to pass a short-term CR over Democratic opposition after a deal was reached with conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus, who had threatened to oppose the bill throughout Thursday. House approves spending bill, shifting shutdown drama to Senate:

The group’s chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), secured an agreement with GOP leaders to consider military spending within 10 legislative days.

Most GOP defense hawks said they would vote to avert a shutdown, despite their frustration with repeated short-term bills to fund the military.

Nearly all Democrats refused to support the legislation, which would extend funding through Feb. 16, in the absence of a solution to protect young immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

* * *

The final vote was 230-197, with six Democrats voting for the measure and 11 Republicans voting against it.

The 11 Republicans who voted against the stopgap were mostly members of the Freedom Caucus, but included two Florida centrists — Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — who, like Democrats, are demanding a solution for immigrants brought to country as children.

Six Democrats defected to support the bill: Reps. Salud Carbajal (Calif.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Vicente González (Texas), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.).

The Senate is expected to vote on a procedural motion Thursday to take up the House bill. The procedural vote is expected to be approved, but a follow-up procedural motion to move the bill to a final up-or-down vote is expected to fail and may not even clinch a simple majority as several Republicans have already voiced opposition.

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The ‘shit-show’ shutdown appears likely

Evil GOP bastard House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to avert a government shutdown at midnight on Friday is to hold poor children covered under the CHIP program as hostages, and to attach the long-delayed CHIP program renewal to a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to entice enough votes to pass the short-term spending bill. Poor children are pawns to be used by Paul Ryan in shutdown politics.

This morning our Twitter-troll-in-chief appeared to blow up Ryan’s evil plan. Trump Upsets Republican Strategy to Avoid Shutdown:

President Trump blew up Republican strategies to keep the government open past Friday when on Thursday morning he said a long-term extension of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program should not be part of a stopgap spending bill pending before the House.

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With his tweet, Mr. Trump even inadvertently backed late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel in his fight with House Republicans over their use of CHIP as a lure to win Democratic votes despite the impasse on immigration. Mr. Kimmel responded by saying that Mr. Trump was “absolutely correct.”

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Republican leaders had spent Wednesday pressuring Democrats to vote for the spending bill, arguing that opposing it would effectively block a six-year extension of the children’s health program, attached to the spending bill as a sweetener for lawmakers in both parties.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said on Wednesday that it would be “unconscionable” for Democrats to oppose funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program with a “no” vote on the short-term spending bill.

No, what is unconscionable is to hold poor children hostage in order to pass the fourth CR spending bill since September, because this loser Paul Ryan can’t whip enough votes in his own GOP caucus to pass necessary spending bills.

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Poor children are pawns to be used by Paul Ryan in shutdown politics

Evil GOP bastard House Speaker Paul Ryan has a plan to avert a government shutdown at midnight on Friday. He intends to use poor children covered under the CHIP program as pawns and to attach the long-delayed CHIP program renewal — something which should have already been approved as a stand alone bill — to a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to entice enough votes to pass the short-term spending bill and kick the can down the road again into February.

POLITICO reports, House Republicans coalesce behind plan to avert shutdown:

House Republicans on Tuesday night appeared to coalesce around a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown Friday — even as conservatives threatened to oppose it and a bitter fight continued over the fate of more than 700,000 Dreamers.

Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled a plan at a House GOP Conference meeting to fund the government through Feb. 16, and numerous rank-and-file members quickly endorsed it despite their frustration with another short-term patch. To further sweeten the pot, the Wisconsin Republican’s bill also includes a delay of several Obamacare taxes and a six-year extension of a popular health care program for children.

“It’s a good strategic position because not only does it offer CHIP [funding] for six years … but you also have a medical device tax delay as well as the Cadillac tax delay,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.), referring to some of the taxes that would be delayed. “I think it puts Democrats in a very difficult position of having to vote against that in the House or in the Senate.”

House GOP leaders will whip the bill Wednesday before a possible Thursday vote. If the funding measure passes the House, senior Republican sources in both chambers expect the measure to clear the Senate.

House GOP leaders, however, still have some work to do: House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said many of his conservative members oppose the plan, dismissing the tax delays as a “gimmick” that won’t necessarily help leaders find 218 votes for passage.

After the GOP Conference meeting, the House Freedom Caucus met and did not take a position on the stopgap bill. But Meadows expressed skepticism leadership’s plan would pass in its current form with just Republican votes.

Based on the number of ‘no’ and undecided votes, there is not enough votes for a Republican-only bill,” he said.

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The GOP’s war on the poor: Medicaid work requirements

Now that Tea-Publicans have accomplished their one goal of passing their “tax cuts for corporations and plutocrats” bill, this year their attention will turn to punishing the poor for being poor, those damn “takers”!

The GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, Paul Ryan, “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin,” wants to fulfill his life-long dream of dismantling Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the so-called “entitlement” programs, more accurately the “social contract” programs for which people paid taxes into during their working years on the premise that it will be there for them in their retirement years.

But with the Senate down to a bare 51-49 GOP majority, the Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle, Mitch McConnell, says Entitlement reform is not on 2018 Senate agenda despite what House Speaker Paul Ryan and senior Trump administration officials say. It’s Ryan vs. McConnell on entitlement reform. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s dream of dismantling the nation’s entitlement programs in 2018 has run into a harsh reality: His own party isn’t on board.

Nevertheless, Tea-Publicans are going to chip away at the social contract programs this year. In a break from longstanding legal precedent, last week the Trump Administration Says States May Impose Work Requirements for Medicaid:

The Trump administration said on Thursday that it would allow states to impose work requirements in Medicaid, a major policy shift that moves toward fulfilling a conservative vision for one of the nation’s largest social insurance programs for low-income people.

Federal officials said they would support state efforts to require able-bodied adults to work or participate in other “community engagement activities” as a condition of eligibility for Medicaid.

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