Today is the final day in most states to sign up for health coverage at HealthCare.gov! This may be the best sale of the holiday season, with some people able to find premiums as low as $0 in many counties. Young adults, too, have appealing offers available to them—check out what they are here.
Despite these great deals on health insurance, the federal government has neglected to advertise these highly affordable rates to the public this year in contrast to past open enrollments. This is just one part of Trump’s attempts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The lack of government outreach has impacted people’s awareness of the open enrollment season. In fact, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that “80 percent of ACA enrollees and 95 percent of the uninsured do not even know when the open enrollment period ends.” And while the sabotage hasn’t seemed to slow the daily rate of sign-ups at HealthCare.gov, the shortened enrollment period has had a dramatic impact on people’s ability to enroll.
Several groups, including congressional Democrats and the Center for American Progress, have urged the administration to extend the deadline, but the Trump administration doesn’t appear to be budging. That’s why it’s up to all of us to spread the word to all our friends and family! Check out GetAmericaCovered.org for guidance on enrollment, social media tools, and other useful resources.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#GOPTaxScam. The House and Senate could be voting on the new, merged tax bill as soon as Monday! Several Republican senators have expressed misgivings about the bill, so it’s time to make your voice heard. Remember: this bill will slash taxes for millionaires and billionaires, all while raising taxes on much of the middle class. It blows a $1.5 trillion hole in the deficit, which paves the way for Republicans to say that we need entitlement reform to control the debt. And this isn’t just a prediction; they’re already saying that. Use TrumpTaxToolkit.org to target key members of the House—and if you don’t see your member there, call 202-224-3121 to get connected with your representative.
Tangled Net. Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines to repeal Obama-era regulations regarding Net Neutrality. In an effort to protect consumers from the Trump-appointed FCC chair’s reckless decisions, several states have responded by suing the FCC to reinstate the rules. Just like when Donald Trump pulled the federal government out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the responsibility has now fallen on the states to advocate for the best interests of the people. But the fight is not over yet. Congress still has 60 legislative days to reverse the FCC’s decision. We all hope they will put the interests of the American people over those of multi-billion dollar companies.
Polluting Pruitt. Yesterday, it was revealed that since Scott Pruitt started at the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 700 staff members have left, the second-highest exodus from the EPA in the past decade. As part of Pruitt’s mission to slash the EPA’s budget and workforce, Pruitt has promised to offer hundreds of buyouts and has proposed a budget that would decimate the EPA’s clean air and water programs and eliminate a quarter of the agency’s workforce. Although Congress has yet to act on his budget proposal, Pruitt’s efforts to alter the agency are already having significant impacts on our country’s safety and health. In addition to already taking steps to roll back enforcement of polluters, the offices hit hardest by Pruitt’s “restructuring” are in charge of chemical safety, pollution prevention, enforcement and research.
Puerto Rico’s Super Blackout. One-third of Puerto Rico is still without power, nearly three months after Hurricane Maria hit the island. Residents of Puerto Rico are protesting these conditions that have “deepened ongoing economic and social issues.” Thousands of children have no place to go to school, disrupting their lives and education. The conditions of the island have drawn international criticism regarding the U.S. government’s response. Leilani Farha, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, said, “We can’t fail to note the dissimilar urgency and priority given to the emergency response in Puerto Rico, compared to the U.S. states affected by hurricanes in recent months.” What could the government be doing right now? Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” has a few ideas. In an op-ed to the Washington Post, he argued for dropping the 20 percent excise tax on the island’s products; provide health care to the 3.4 million Americans in Puerto Rico; pass the aid package that the Puerto Rican government requested; and, forgive Puerto Rico’s debt. The bottom line is that the U.S. government has a responsibility to protect and assist Puerto Ricans—and they should take action now.
UNDER THE RADAR
Bad for Workers. In a devastating move for workers across the country, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) “overturned a key Obama-era precedent that had given workers significant leverage in challenging companies like fast-food and hotel chains over labor practices.” House Republicans passed a bill last month that would go even further to weaken workers’ ability to challenge workplace violations by big corporations. The NLRB, controlled by a Republican majority, may move to eliminate other key worker protections in the near future, although many are surprised by the speed at which the NLRB is acting. And workers are facing attacks from other places in the Trump administration. The Department of Labor has proposed a rule that would allow restaurant employers to pool all tips and either re-distribute them among workers, including non-tipped workers, or pocket the money themselves. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that this rule could allow employers to steal nearly $6 billion in tips each year. The rule could also exacerbate sexual harassment for tipped workers, as “the new rule would add additional pressure from employers and managers who would control the distribution of tips.”