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The GOP’s dead-end 51st vote to repeal or undermine ACA not only jeopardizes American seniors’ health – it will hike insurance premiums and uninsure 13 million Americans according to the nonpartisan CBO.

From TPMDC: GOP’s Anti-Obamacare Bill Would Hike Premiums, Uninsure 13 Million

House GOP legislation to delay Obamacare’s individual mandate by five years would cause a spike in health insurance premiums and 13 million fewer Americans insured, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The bill is set to come up for a vote on Friday, a Republican leadership aide said…

It would cause insurance premiums to “increase by 10 percent to 20 percent” come 2018, CBO projected. It would lead to one million fewer people on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Plan, one million fewer people with employer-based coverage and seven million fewer with coverage from the Obamacare exchanges.  [3/12]

But that’s not all! The House GOP bill would also dramatically increase long-term deficits…

From the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

…the bill would increase deficits in the 2nd decade likely by over $200 billion (and potentially significantly more).  [3/12]

Just another example of how House Republicans’ partisan political ideology would make life worse for American workers and their families.

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According to Congressman Paul Ryan, House Republican leaders “don’t have the votes” to pass comprehensive immigration reform.  [3/12]

Is that so?  The following facts call his assertion into question:

H.R.15 has the support of 200 Members, including 3 Republicans.

30 House Republicans, including Congressman Ryan, have already come out in favor of immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.

There is only one way to find out if House Republicans have the votes to pass immigration reform – bring H.R.15 to the House floor for a vote.  The time is now to pass this bipartisan bill.

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For the GOP’s 51st vote to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans have turned their toxic, empty partisanship onto the health care of America’s seniors – threatening to derail bipartisan, bicameral process towards a permanent Medicare “doc fix.”

Doctors groups have already come out against the House Republican plan. Yesterday, AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) sent a letter to Congressional leaders opposing the GOP’s toxic doc fix:

“…we have deep concerns about packaging the Medicare physician payment bill with legislation that would sever the link between the ACA’s individual mandate and its market reforms. The experience of states that attempted this in the 1990s demonstrates that removing this important linkage will result in more uninsured Americans, higher costs, and reduced choices for individuals and families. To avoid these outcomes, we are asking Congress to reject efforts to repeal or delay the individual mandate in the debate on Medicare physician payment reform.” [3/11]

Even if this partisan political ploy does pass the House – it is a legislative dead-end and will not be passed in the Senate or signed by the President.

From CQ:

[Senior Republican Sen. Orrin] Hatch also indicated that legislation the House is scheduled to vote on Friday overhauling the SGR based on an agreement worked out between the Finance Committee and the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees will die when it gets to the Senate.

That measure would scrap the SGR, but the only offset mentioned so far by Republicans is delaying the mandate in the health law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) requiring individuals to have health insurance. Such a measure is virtually certain to be ignored by the Senate, Hatch said.

“The Senate won’t even bring it up, [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid won’t even bring it up,” Hatch said.

House Republicans are willing to toss months of bipartisan, bicameral talks toward a “doc fix” down the drain just to pursue their own partisan political agenda.  It’s just plain wrong.

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House Republican Budget Chairman and former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan had this to say this morning about poverty:

“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

That’s right. The House Republican leader on the budget told a conservative radio host that poverty is the fault of “generations of men” in the “inner cities” who don’t even think about work or “value the culture of work.” From Think Progress:

Ryan then went on to cite Charles Murray, a conservative social scientist who believes African-Americans are, as a population, less intelligent than whites due to genetic differences and that poverty remains a national problem because “a lot of poor people are born lazy.”

Shameful and wrong.

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Speaker Boehner and House Republicans are readying their latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, their 51st attempt to undermine health reform.  This latest desperate plan would tie the permanent Medicare ‘doc fix’ to a delay of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.  In doing so, the Republican leadership is threatening to blow up bipartisan, bicameral progress toward a permanent Medicare ‘doc fix,’ steering the health and security of our nation’s seniors into a legislative dead-end.

From TPMDC:

House Republicans have a bold new strategy to attack Obamacare, which involves huge pay cuts for physicians unless Democrats agree to delay the law’s individual mandate to buy insurance.

GOP leaders intend to vote on legislation this week, aides say, to delay the individual mandate in order to fund a “doc fix” that avoids a 24 percent pay cut to physicians under Medicare — which will automatically take effect on April 1 unless Congress acts. Inaction would disrupt the health care system, in part by causing many doctors to stop accepting Medicare patients.

The strategy is unlikely to succeed and could backfire on Republicans. Delaying the individual mandate is a nonstarter for the Democratic-led Senate and White House.

But don’t take our word for it.  Physicians groups are vocally opposed to the House GOP’s plan.  Time is running out, and if Republicans do not come to their senses by the end of the month, seniors will be turned away from their doctors and cut off from the health care they need.

The Hill:

Powerful physician groups that are Washington’s loudest voice for a permanent “doc fix” are shooting down a Republican effort to link the bill to a delay of ObamaCare’s individual mandate…

“The only way this is going to get done if it’s done in a bipartisan fashion,” said Christian Shalgian, director of advocacy and health policy for the American College of Surgeons…

“We cannot support linking SGR repeal to changes in current law that will result in fewer people getting health insurance coverage,” said Molly Cooke, president of the American College of Physicians, in a statement on Friday.

Bloomberg Government:

“We are disappointed with the decision to pursue a partisan path,” Ardis Dee Hoven, the president of the American Medical Association, the largest physician lobbying organization, said in a statement.

The American Osteopathic Association:

“The AOA is concerned that a new Medicare physician payment system that values high-quality care will not come to fruition unless the continued advancement of legislation already under consideration has bipartisan spirit…. The AOA does not support any approach to advance this important legislation that potentially interferes with patient access to high-quality care. In the end, our nation’s patients will be the ones most at risk.”

The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery:

“Unfortunately, House Republican leadership said late this week that they plan to bring the bill to the floor of the House next week with a repeal of the individual mandate as a cost offset…

“ASCRS and the medical community are urging the Senate and House leadership to come together and identify bi-partisan offsets so that H.R. 4015/S. 2000 can be signed into law before April 1.”

America’s seniors deserve better than this cavalier and craven treatment, but House Republicans are committed to playing politics with this essential issue.  It is time for them to abandon this irresponsible and dangerous plan and do what needs to be done to pass a bipartisan, sensible and permanent ‘doc fix’ for our seniors.

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The Hill asks an important question on today’s front page – is the 113th Congress the Worst Congress ever?

The short answer: yes.

From The Hill:

…The most memorable action taken by this Congress was last year’s shutdown.

It is not that passing lots of laws necessarily makes a “good Congress,” and many people would argue that the opposite is true. But even measures that both parties’ leaders want to get done, such as immigration reform, tax reform and transportation legislation have scant chance of reaching Obama’s desk…

“It would be hard to find a worse one, for sure,” said Richard Baker, the Senate’s first historian…

The 113th Congress passed fewer substantial laws in its first session than any other Congress in the last 20 years, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Drew DeSilver, who conducted the Pew analysis, said Congress enacted only 62 substantive laws in 2013.

Baker, the former Senate historian, said you have to reach back to the Congresses of 1907, or the late 1850s, to find legislative sessions that matched the current one in vitriol and lack of cooperation.

The American people deserve a government that works. House Republicans should set aside their partisan ideological agenda and work with Democrats to pass legislation that addresses our nation’s priorities.

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Shocking nobody, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) confirmed Congressional Republicans have a plan – a plan to do nothing for the remainder of the year.

From Cincinnati Enquirer:

…”There’s a lot of big important things that need to be dealt with that aren’t going to happen this year,” [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell told the Enquirer in an hour long interview at the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Sounds like McConnell and House Republican leaders are on the same page.

GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp told the National Journal that Republican leaders informed the GOP conference they were finished after they passed the debt ceiling bill:

“That’s what our leadership said—if we get past this one, we’re done until the election.”

And GOP Rep. Devin Nunes explained:

“We don’t have 218 votes in the House for the big issues, so what else are we going to do?”

Nothing.

No plan to strengthen the economy or create jobs.

No plan to put forth a realistic budget.

The American people deserve better than to have their priorities brushed off by GOP leaders worried about partisan politics.

Posted in Fiscal Responsibility, General, In the News, Labor and American Jobs | Leave a comment

MEMORANDUM 

To: Interested Parties
Fr:  Democratic Leader’s Press Office
Dt: March 6, 2014
Re: The Truth About the GOP War on the Poor

This winter has seen brutally cold temperatures and repeated snowfalls across much of the country but the frosty weather is no match for the cold cruelty of House Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s War on the Poor.

Today at a politically charged conference in Washington, D.C., Chairman Ryan had the audacity to say the President and Democrats in Congress are offering the American people “a full stomach and an empty soul.”

Huh?  This from a leader of the party that has called repeatedly for slashing or eliminating funding for food stamps, WIC benefits for pregnant women, young mothers and small children, reduced fare breakfast and lunch programs at schools, meals on wheels for low income seniors with reduced or no mobility.

In fact, on Monday, Ryan released an error-riddled report which tried to assert that federal initiatives designed to help low-income people don’t work and should be scrapped because there are still low-income people in our country.  Only in the Republican Party does it make sense to declare helping those in poverty requires slashing and eliminating initiatives designed to help the most vulnerable among us.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for economists, budget experts, and journalists to highlight the report’s errors and flawed ideological conclusions.

Fiscal Times – Economists Say Paul Ryan Misrepresented Their Research

An exhaustive critique of the federal social safety net released by Rep. Paul Ryan on Monday is meant to be the intellectual foundation for an overhaul of the federal anti-poverty programs. But interviews with economists – a number of whom are cited in Ryan’s paper – suggest that he may be building his house on sand…

However, several economists and social scientists contacted on Monday had reactions ranging from bemusement to anger at Ryan’s report, claiming that he either misunderstood or misrepresented their research.

Los Angeles Times – How big a mess is Ryan’s report on poverty? Scholars say: Very big.

Unfortunately for Ryan, several experts on the War on Poverty have now taken their licks at the report. Doubly unfortunate for Ryan, some of them are experts whose work he cited in the report, and they say they’ve been misrepresented. That’s important, because the goal of Ryan’s report is to show that existing poverty programs are ineffective, and therefore should be changed (mostly by cutting them). But he cooked the books…

Even beyond misquotation of scholars’ statistics, the report is extremely one-sided and sloppy in its interpretation of research on poverty programs.

Sharon Parrot with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s new report on safety net programs and poverty is disappointing.  Though it purports to be a balanced, evidence-based review of the safety net, it falls far short of that standard.  It’s replete with misleading and selective presentations of data and research, which it uses to portray the safety net in a negative light.  It also omits key research and data that point in more positive directions.

For several years now, Chairman Ryan (R-WI) has proposed annual budgets that would deeply cut programs for the poor.  The Ryan budgets have consistently secured between 60 and 67 percent of their budget cuts from programs for low- or moderate-income people.

Esquire – The New Adventures of Old Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan’s entire political career has been about eliminating the federal government’s ability to do anything except raise an army and keep the tax burden on the country’s wealthiest citizens low. This is the Makers And Takers guy, remember? There is no compelling reason now to believe he’s changed at all.

New York Magazine – Paul Ryan Tries to Enlist Social Science to Back Up His Poverty Plan, Disaster Ensues

Basically everything in Ryan’s report turns out to be wrong. The Fiscal Times contacts a number of researchers whom Ryan cites, and they all report that Ryan knows nothing of their work…

Ryan’s budget absolutely slays the budget for anti-poverty programs – the vast majority of his spending cuts come from the minority of federal programs aimed at the poor. That fact has led to his current predicament: Democrats have painted him as a cruel social Darwinist, causing him to become concerned about his image as an “Ayn Rand miser,” causing him to re-brand himself as a poverty wonk, causing him to dive into scholarly literature. But scholarly literature is never going to show that his plans to impose massive cuts to the anti-poverty budget will help poor people.

The Week – Can Paul Ryan’s poverty blitz survive contact with reality?

The thing to remember about Ryan’s misleading attacks on the War on Poverty is that they’re born of necessity. Ryan’s ideology won’t allow for the success of social safety net programs — he believes they provide “disincentives” to work and turn people into wards of the state.

To dismantle that safety net, he has to argue that it has failed the people it was designed to help. And the only way to do that is through the sort of creative manipulation of data on display in his report.

New York Times Editorial – Mr. Ryan’s Small Ideas on Poverty

Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the House Budget Committee chairman, has an important role to play within the Republican Party. He provides polished intellectual cover for his party to mow down as many antipoverty programs as it can see. Most Congressional Republicans would love nothing more than to eviscerate programs like Medicaid, Head Start and food stamps. But so as not to appear cruel and uncaring, they need a high-minded excuse to do so…

It’s easy to find flaws or waste in any government program, but the proper response is to fix those flaws, not throw entire programs away as Mr. Ryan and his party have repeatedly proposed.

It is clear that the GOP-Ryan agenda is nothing more than an empty plan to tackle poverty and soulless political agenda that does nothing to help the American people. Chairman Ryan and House Republicans need to put aside their partisan agenda and work with Democrats to pass policies that are proven to help struggling Americans and their families.

 Raise the Minimum Wage

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Renew UI for millions of jobless Americans still struggling to find work

Paycheck Fairness

 

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As House Republicans prepare to vote for the 50th time to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act, let’s take a look at 50 accomplishments of this landmark reform to date…

  1. More than 4 million Americans have enrolled in private plans in the Marketplaces.
  2. 82 percent of those enrolling in the Marketplaces are receiving premium tax credits, making their coverage more affordable.
  3. Enrollment in the Marketplaces increased by 53 percent in January alone.
  4. Enrollment by young adults grew by 65 percent in January – outpacing all other age groups.
  5. Two-thirds of uninsured single adults eligible for the Marketplaces are estimated to be able to spend $100 or less a month for coverage in 2014, once tax credits are taken into account.
  6. The average premiums in the Marketplaces in 2014 are below the premiums projected by the CBO.
  7. 3.1 million young adults who would otherwise be uninsured are now enrolled in their parents’ plan.
  8. Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that nearly 5 million uninsured will gain coverage through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion by 2016, in the states implementing Medicaid expansion.
  9. More than $19 billion in fraudulent Medicare payments has been recovered on behalf of U.S. taxpayers over the last five years – primarily due to new tools to crack down on fraud in Medicare contained in the ACA.
  10. Almost $2 trillion in deficit reduction will be achieved over the next 20 years, according to CBO.
  11. Health care spending is growing at the lowest rate in over 50 years.
  12. Although not solely due to the ACA, 8.4 million private sector jobs have been created in the 46 months since enactment of the ACA, in contrast to the 3.8 million private sector jobs lost during the decade before ACA enactment.
  13. The 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions can now no longer be denied coverage or charged higher premiums because of their pre-existing condition – including up to 17 million children.
  14. Women can now no longer be charged higher premiums just because they are women.
  15. Workers with physically demanding jobs can now no longer face higher premiums because of their occupations.
  16. For the first time, coverage in the individual market is guaranteed for people when they need it most – it cannot be denied or rescinded.
  17. For the first time, in the individual market, health plans are required to cover key essential benefits like hospitalizations, mental health, and prescription drugs.
  18. 105 million Americans no longer have a lifetime dollar limit on their coverage.
  19. 71 million Americans with private insurance now have access to many free preventive services.
  20. Nearly 30 million women with private insurance are now receiving free coverage for comprehensive women’s preventive services, including well-woman visits and gestational diabetes screening.
  21. 34 million seniors in Medicare have already received one or more free preventive services.
  22. 4.4 million seniors in Medicare have had a free Annual  Wellness Visit.
  23. More than 7.3 million seniors in the ‘donut hole’ have already saved $8.9 billion on their prescription drugs, an average savings of $1,209 per person.
  24. The life of the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended by nearly 10 years, until 2026.
  25. Medicare Part B’s premium will not increase in 2014 and the last five years have been among the slowest periods of average Part B premium growth in Medicare’s history.
  26. Medicare Part B’s deductible is actually decreasing in 2014.
  27. The average Medicare Part D premium is projected to be $31 per month in 2014, holding steady for four years in a row.
  28. Since enactment of the ACA, average Medicare Advantage premiums are down by nearly 10 percent.
  29. Between 2010 and 2012, Medicare per beneficiary spending rose by only 1.7 percent annually, dramatically more slowly than the period between 2000 and 2009.
  30. Medicaid spending per beneficiary actually dropped by 1.9 percent in 2012.
  31. As a result, according to CBO, Medicare and Medicaid will now spend $700 billion less over the 10-year period 2011 through 2020 than previously projected.
  32. Hospital readmissions in Medicare have fallen for the first time on record, resulting in 130,000 fewer hospital readmissions between January 2012 and August 2013 alone.
  33. More than 360 Accountable Care Organizations have been established, serving 5.3 million Americans with Medicare.  In the first performance year, the program produced higher quality care and lower Medicare expenditures.
  34. 360,000 small employers have already used the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit to  help provide health insurance to 2 million workers.
  35. Overall, over the last two years, consumers have saved a total of nearly $5 billion due to the ACA provision requiring insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on care for patients (rather than CEO pay, profits, and administrative costs).
  36. In the summer of 2013, 8.5 million Americans received $500 million in rebates from their insurance companies, because their insurers failed to meet the standard of spending at least 80 percent of premiums on medical care.
  37. Insurance companies now have to publicly justify any premium increases they are seeking that are over 10 percent.  These proposed increases can then be publicly deemed to be “unreasonable” by health care experts.
  38. The health care law’s rate review provisions have already helped save Americans an estimated $1 billion on their premiums.
  39. Since the rate review provisions took effect, the share of double digit premium increases requested by insurance companies plummeted from 75 percent in 2010 to 14 percent in 2013.
  40. The ACA is strengthening our Community Health Centers, with investments of $11 billion over 10 years to improve and grow the centers, which are providing high-quality preventive and primary care to more than 21 million patients across the country.
  41. The ACA has expanded mental health and substance use disorder benefits and federal parity protections for approximately 60 million Americans – representing one of the largest expansions of mental health and substance use disorder coverage in a generation.
  42. The health care workforce will be more diverse due to a near tripling of the National Health Service Corps.
  43. 7.3 million African Americans with private insurance now have access to many free preventive services.
  44. More than 500,000 African American young adults who would otherwise be uninsured are now enrolled in their parents’ plan.
  45. About 10.4 million African Americans no longer have a lifetime limit on their coverage.
  46. Six in ten uninsured African Americans may qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, or lower costs on monthly premiums in the Marketplaces under the ACA.
  47. 8.2 million Latinos with private insurance now have access to many free preventive services.
  48. 913,000 Latino young adults who would otherwise be uninsured are now enrolled in their parents’ plan.
  49. About 11.8 million Latinos no longer have a lifetime limit on their coverage.
  50. Eight in ten uninsured Latinos may qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, or lower costs on monthly premiums in the Marketplaces under the ACA.
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Apparently House Republicans are torn between offering an “aspirational” budget – read: a partisan agenda with no chance of getting signed into law – and sticking with their well-worn politics of obstruction and dead-end attacks on the Affordable Health Care Act.

From National Journal:

Some Republicans say an “aspirational” budget filled with conservative policy could draw more support from the conference and help in the election. “I think what he’s putting on the floor would be more an ideal” budget, said Rep. John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican.

But others say it could be a liability with thorny details that detract from broader, more conceptual and successful Republican attacks over the economy and Obamacare. Moreover, Republicans don’t necessarily have to touch the budget issue, because the budget agreement set top-line numbers for 2015.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that Speaker Boehner pointed at the President and accused him of failing to deliver on his legislative agenda?

As Steve Benen described it:

Reasonable people can debate the merits of competing proposals or policy strategies, but for Speaker Boehner to suggest President Obama is uninterested in governing, lacks ambition, and intends to do nothing for the rest of the 2014 is so head-spinning that it’s genuinely alarming Boehner was able to say the words out loud without laughing hysterically.

Let’s briefly review reality in case it still matters. John Boehner claimed the Speaker’s gavel three years ago, and since that time, he’s racked up zero major legislative accomplishments. While Obama has at times been desperate to get something, anything, done with this Congress, Boehner has tried and failed to lead House Republicans towards anything resembling governing.

The result has been the least productive Congress since clerks started keeping track several generations ago. Thanks to Boehner’s “leadership,” Capitol Hill is establishing new benchmarks for ineptitude, giving the “do-nothing Congress” phrase an updated definition to reflect levels of ineffectiveness few thought possible before 2011.

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