Rob Portman and Healthcare; Bob Latta and Russia

CTY-tour06pFirst, a big THANK YOU to Rob Portman for coming out against the most recent healthcare idea: repeal now, replace later. This is a terrible plan: there is no reason to think that the GOP, a party that had 7 years to come up with a replacement, would do so given 2 more, so this plan means nothing but medical and financial disaster for millions of Americans. But, McConnell is determined to have a vote on some kind of healthcare bill next week, so this post will provide a snapshot comparison of the plans floating around capitol hill.

Things have been quieter in the House, but one big concern is the lack of action on the Russia sanctions bill that was passed by the Senate 98-2. What’s Bob Latta’s stance on this bill? Encourage him to tell his GOP leadership to bring it to the floor for a vote.

GOP Healthcare Plans

Three distinct GOP health care bills have been scored by the Congressional Budget office to date:

  1. HR 1628 American Healthcare Act (amended; scored 5/24/17)
  2. HR 1628 Better Care Reconciliation Act (scored 6/26/17)
  3. HR 1628 Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (scored 7/19/17)
  4. HR 1628 Better Care Reconciliation Act: an Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute  (scored 7/20/17)

The first is the version passed by the house a couple of months ago. The second is the Senate’s first version of the House bill, the third is the repeal now, replace later version, and the last one is a tweaked version of version 2. There are a couple of things that all the bills have in common: huge tax breaks for the wealthy paid for by deep cuts to Medicaid over the next 10 years. There are some different approaches to those goals, but those fundamental principles persist in all versions of the bill.

Mitch McConnell is committed to holding a vote on a healthcare bill next week. It will most likely be either 3. or 4., so it’s useful to compare these plans and the effects they would have.

Criteria ACA (current law) “Better Care” Reconciliation Repeal Now, Replace Later
Americans Covered stable: current law compared to the current law, 22 million will lose insurance by 2026 compared to the current law, 32 million will lose insurance by 2026
Premium Subsidies to Individuals tax credits for those with incomes between 100%-400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Pro-rated by income. tax credits for those with incomes between 0%-350% of the FPL.
Individual contribution increased for those with income above 150% FPL, particularly for older Americans. Tax credits based on plans with lower
value than the standard plan for the ACA.
tax credit subsidies will be eliminated January 1, 2020
Cost Sharing Subsidies to Individuals Provide subsidies to those with incomes between 100-250% FPL. Subsidies repealed as of January 1, 2020. Subsidies repealed as of January 1, 2020.
Women’s Health Prohibit higher premium prices on the basis of gender. Prohibit excluding care for “pre-exisiting condition” history of pregnancy, c-section, and domestic violence. Require coverage of maternity care and preventative care such as contraception and cancer screenings. Effective 2018: tax credits cannot be used for plans that
cover abortion. Essential Health Benefits (EHB) for women are still covered, but states can request a waiver to change these requirements. Federal funding for Planned Parenthood is prohibited. Small employers will no longer receive tax credits if their plans include abortion coverage.
Effective 2018: tax credits cannot be used for plans that
cover abortion. Federal funding for Planned Parenthood is prohibited. Small employers will no longer receive tax credits if their plans include abortion coverage.

The bottom line: so far Republicans don’t have anything constructive to offer on Healthcare. Their shenanigans have destabilized the individual markets, causing people real harm. It’s time to cut out the nonsense and work with Democrats to stabilize the individual markets. Leave the rest alone.

Let Rob Portman know what you think.

What about that Russian Sanctions Bill?

On June 15, the Senate passed a Russia Sactions bill by an overwhelming majority of 98-2. The provisions in this bill would turn into law sanctions on mining and other Russian industries and sanctions on individual Russians responsible for cyber attacks or supplying weapons to Syria that were established through President Obama’s executive orders.

The bill would also establish a process for Congressional review and approval of any easing of Russia sanctions that the Trump administration might contemplate.

But the bill has been languishing in the House for more than a month. Some Senators worry that the sanctions may be watered down, or that House leadership will buckle to White House pressure to remove the Russia sanction provisions altogether. Already, other hurdles are being raised by house members.

With the dizzying array of new facts about the connections between the Trump circle and the Russian government, and the President’s secretive behavior about meetings with Putin, it’s important to strengthen the force of sanctions and add protections that prohibit the President from lifting sanctions.

Bob Latta has not commented on this issue — except to support the firing of Comey. Rep. Latta should get on the right side of history on this issue and encourage leadership to bring this bill to a vote without further delay.

Let Bob Latta know what you think.