How the latest effort to repeal Obamacare would affect millions

The following article by Simon Haeder was posted on the Conversation website September 19, 2017:

From left, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., hold a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

At the end of July, the nation held its collective breath as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) looked poised to achieve his most formidable parliamentary accomplishment: the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

But Republican hopes were dashed by one of their own, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who cast the deciding vote that appeared to decisively derail the multi-year effort.

McCain called to return to “regular order,” to work through committees, to bring in and listen to experts, to be open and transparent, and perhaps most importantly, to at least listen to both parties. Read More

Five things to know about the new ObamaCare repeal bill

The following article by Rachel Roubein and Nathaniel Weixel was posted on the Hill website September 20, 2017:

The new ObamaCare repeal bill under consideration in the Senate includes some controversial policies that have divided Republicans in the past.

Some senators haven’t taken a position on the bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), saying that they have yet to fully digest the bill and how it would work.

In short: The bill ends federal funds for ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion and the subsidies that help people afford coverage. Instead, the money would be converted into block grants and given to the states.

Here are five things to know about the legislation. Read More

Jimmy Kimmel gets heated about health-care bill, says Sen. Bill Cassidy ‘lied right to my face’

The following article by Emily Yahr was posted on the Washington Post website September 20, 2017:

In May, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel delivered an emotional monologue as he revealed that his newborn son, Billy, was born with a heart defect that required immediate surgery. The operation was successful, but Kimmel was deeply shaken by the experience, which happened amid the debate over replacing the Affordable Care Act. Kimmel delivered a passionate plea about the astronomical costs of health care: “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life.”

Later that week, while talking about whether insurance companies should be able to cap payouts, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) coined the phrase “the Jimmy Kimmel test,” as in: “Would a child born with congenital heart disease be able to get everything he or she would need in that first year of life?” Cassidy then appeared on Kimmel’s show, and the senator reiterated the importance of making sure middle-class families could afford health care. Read More

Bipartisan Health Care Talks Shut Down Amid Rush to Repeal

The following article by Jason Dick and Joe Williams was posted on the Roll Call website September 19, 2017:

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has halted a bipartisan effort to stabilize the health insurance market as Senate Republicans aggressively seek to repeal the 2010 health care law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A bipartisan effort to stabilize the health insurance markets suffered a potentially fatal blow Tuesday as Senate Republicans kicked into high gear their attempt to repeal the 2010 health care law.

Facing a Sept. 30 deadline to utilize the 2017 budget reconciliation process that would allow passage of the health care legislation without having to worry about the filibuster, GOP leaders and Vice President Mike Pence lobbied their rank and file to pass legislation spearheaded by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. It would repeal the 2010 law’s mandates for coverage, curtail the Medicaid program and block-grant money to the states to construct their own health care programs.  Read More

Graham-Cassidy ACA Repeal Bill Would Cause Huge Premium Increases for People with Pre-Existing Conditions

The following article by Sam Berger and Emily Gee was posted on the Center for American Progress website September 18, 2017:

From left, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA). Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) hold a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 13, 2017, to unveil legislation to reform health care. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

With only two weeks left to move forward with a partisan health care repeal bill, some Senate Republicans are trying one last time to rip coverage from millions of Americans. Their latest effort, introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), would make devastating cuts to Medicaid and cut and eventually eliminate funding that helps people in the individual insurance market afford coverage, leading to at least 32 million fewer people having coverage after 2026.

Those who did not lose coverage would see their premiums increase significantly. In the first year, premiums would increase by 20 percent. But the increases would be even greater for people with pre-existing conditions because the bill would let insurers in the individual market charge a premium markup based on health status and history, which could increase their premiums by tens of thousands of dollars.

Huge premium markups for pre-existing conditions

As with a previous Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bill in the House, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), Graham-Cassidy would allow states to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. And just as with that previous proposal, this would increase premiums for people with certain health conditions by tens of thousands of dollars. Read More

New push to replace Obamacare reflects high stakes for Republicans

The following article by Sean Sullivan and Kelsey Snell was posted on the Washington Post website September 18, 2017:

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) spoke about his proposal for health-care reform at a news conference on Sept. 13. (Reuters)

A final GOP effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act burst into view this week in the Senate, where leaders began pressuring rank-and-file Republicans with the hope of voting on the package by the end of the month.

The renewed push comes nearly two months after the last attempt to overhaul the law known as Obamacare failed in a dramatic, early-morning vote, dealing a substantial defeat to President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and prompting many to assume that the effort was dead. Read More

To make their tax plan work, Republicans eye a favorite blue-state break

The following article by Michael DeBonis was posted on the Washington Post website September 16, 2017:

President Trump pauses during a meeting with congressional leaders and administration officials on tax reform in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Sept. 5, 2017. From left, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas). (Evan Vucci/AP)

As long as there has been a federal income tax, taxpayers have been able to deduct most of the state and local taxes they pay from earnings subject to Uncle Sam’s grasp. But that deduction — especially popular in states rich in Democratic voters — could disappear as soon as next year if President Trump and congressional Republicans succeed in their promised rewrite of the tax code.

The state and local tax deduction, or SALT, has long been a target for tax-policy wonks who see it as an unwise federal subsidy that is mainly claimed by the wealthy. But politics have always intervened: Thanks to the opposition of lawmakers in high-tax states, the deduction has survived every effort to clear out loopholes, including the last federal tax overhaul of similar ambition in 1986.

Now, Republican leaders have made clear the SALT deduction is on the table, and it has shaken up a number of blue-state GOP legislators who are warning that it could derail the ambitious tax plan Trump is now pushing. Read More

Bipartisan initiative to thwart election hacking gains steam

The following article by James Hohmann with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve was posted on the Washington Post website September 14, 2017:

THE BIG IDEA: West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner’s son was wounded by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan and suffered traumatic brain injury.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a meeting yesterday in Sochi. (Michael Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images)

When he finally made it home, the Republican asked his boy to tell him about his toughest day in combat.

“He had been wounded. There was a girl who had a leg blown off. They had to call in F-16s to secure their positions,” Warner recalled in an interview. “I was expecting those kinds of war stories out of him. But he said, ‘Dad, the hardest day for me, without a doubt, was election day in Afghanistan.’ It was 110 degrees. Before they went out, they put tourniquets on each of their arms and legs so, if they got hit, they could still turn the tourniquets. They found five IEDs around the one polling place that his platoon was assigned to defend.” But Afghans came out to vote any way, even at great personal risk to themselves. Read More

Bipartisan Push for Electoral Security Gets Priority Status

The following article by Niels Lesniewski was posted on the Roll Call website September 12, 2017:

Amendment has support of Schumer, GOP national security leaders

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar wants to make voting security part of the debate on the defense policy bill. Credit:  Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo

Updated 9:24 p.m. | A bipartisan effort to enhance election security is among the priorities for Senate Democrats as part of the debate on the annual defense authorization measure.

“The consensus of 17 U.S. Intelligence agencies was that Russia, a foreign adversary, interfered in our elections. Make no mistake: Their success in 2016 will encourage them to try again,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Tuesday. “We have state elections in a couple of months and the 2018 election is a little more than a year away. We must improve our defenses now to ensure we’re prepared.”

The New York Democrat was speaking on the floor about a bipartisan effort led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican.

The amendment has the backing of a number of national security experts with Republican backgrounds. On Monday, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, former CIA Director James Woolsey, former House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogersand retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer of the London Center for Policy Research wrote to Senate leaders and the Armed Services Committee leadership to push the effort.

“Although election administration is the province of state and local governments, the federal government has a responsibility to support the states and ‘provide for the common defense,’” the former officials wrote. “We do not expect the states to defend themselves against kinetic attacks by hostile foreign powers, nor should we leave them to defend against foreign cyberattacks on their own.”

Among the possible uses of grant funds to states authorized under the amendment would be cyberdefenses for voting systems and postelection audit systems, as well as paper trail technology.

“On other matters of national security, the federal government provides states and municipalities with grants to fund security personnel and first responders on the front lines of addressing threats. Given the longstanding role of the federal government in elections and the seriousness of emerging risks, the issue of voting security should be no different,” the officials wrote in their letter.

Klobuchar’s involvement comes, in part, from her role as the ranking Democrat on the Rules and Administration Committee, which has significant jurisdiction over election matters.

It was not clear as the Senate adjourned Tuesday how many amendments would ultimately be considered to the fiscal 2018 defense bill, despite the efforts of leaders on both sides of the aisle.

But an agreement with Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul for a Wednesday morning procedural vote should increase the chances that the election security amendment gets in the queue for a vote.

Klobuchar and Graham will have Schumer’s backing when it comes time to compile a manager’s package of amendments or to get a standalone vote.

Paul had pledged to object to any procedural efforts to truncate debate on the defense policy bill unless he got a vote on an amendment that would roll back the authorizations for use of military force against Iraq and Afghanistan, which date to the early period of the George W. Bush presidency.

“The Graham-Klobuchar amendment would greatly strengthen our defenses, helping prepare states for the inevitable cyberattacks that threaten the integrity of our elections,” Schumer said Tuesday. “We should pass it as part of the NDAA.”

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Despite Trashing Attempts by Right-Wingers, DACA Kids Are the Young People Most Parents Want Their Children to Be

The following article by Steven Rosenfeld was posted on the AlterNet website September 6, 2017:

Six snapshots of who DACA recipients are: strivers, hard-working, responsible, honest, vetted—and more than half are women.

Credit: Gili Getz / Movimiento Cosecha

Within hours of President Trump announcing he would end the DACA program, some right-wingers took to the airwaves saying were fed up with being told to have sympathy for these youths and families that the federal government was poised to break up.

That was the case on CNN, when host Don Lemon had to cut off John Fredericks, a right-wing talk show host, who said that most Americans struggling to get through their days were tired of hearing about the 800,000 young people who didn’t have visas to be here. Read More