President Trump spent a lot of time in his first year in office sabotaging the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has resulted in higher premiums and fewer choices. Now, some members of Congress are fighting back. Two new bills were introduced yesterday that would combat Trump’s ACA sabotage and help improve and protect peoples’ health insurance.
In the House, Representatives Frank Pallone, Richard Neal, and Bobby Scott released a bill that seeks to expand coverage and ensure affordability. Among other things, it would reduce premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs by expanding eligibility for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions; prohibit junk plans that don’t provide people with sufficient coverage; and create a reinsurance program to help reduce premiums. Similar actions are happening in the Senate, where Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced a bill to block Trump’s proposals for junk plans and protect people with pre-existing conditions.
But members of Congress aren’t the only ones who can—and should—take action. Here are three steps that states could take right now to reduce premiums, increase coverage, and combat Trump’s sabotage of the health care market.
- Pass a state-level individual mandate.
- Create a state reinsurance program, preferably through a State Innovation Waiver.
- Prohibit the sale of substandard junk plans, or limit their use to narrow circumstances.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Stop Selling Weapons of War. Since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, numerous companies have ended their partnerships with the NRA or taken action to make their gun sales safer. The only remaining major retailer of assault weapons is Bass Pro Shops. Demand they stop selling weapons of war by signing our petition!
(Some) Action on Guns. In a (very) small first step, the Florida Senate passed a bill that “would raise the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21, require a three-day waiting period for most gun purchases and ban the sale or possession of bump fire stocks.” Although it falls well short of the needed actions and pleas from Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, it is a small win in a state known for having extremely lax gun laws. However, the bill does include a provision to arm school workers, excluding those who “exclusively perform class duties as classroom teachers.” The bill now moves to the Florida House for debate and a vote.
Nunberg Lets Loose. If you turned on a cable news show last night, you probably heard from or about Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide who has been asked to testify in front of a grand jury by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He defended himself and his mentor, Roger Stone, while claiming that he had been wronged by Trump. He also said he would refuse to submit to Mueller’s demands—but his story changed early this morning, when he indicated he would cooperate. As the Mueller probe continues to heat up, it’s more important than ever before that Trump sit down with Mueller. Sign our petition to demand Trump tell Mueller the truth!
North Korea. In a somewhat surprising turn of events yesterday, South Korea officials said that North Korea had indicated a willingness to hold “candid talks with the United States about denuclearization and normalizing relations,” while also agreeing to not test any more weapons until the talks are completed. There’s reason to be skeptical, as North Korea has been known to break its promises. But, these talks place the ball firmly in the U.S.’s court, and Trump must take firm, assertive action—not involving Twitter—to ensure a safer future for everyone. It’s also critical that we maintain strong relations with South Korea—a first start would be appointing an ambassador to South Korea.
UNDER THE RADAR
Moonlighting. A key aide to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been permitted to make extra money outside of the agency as a consultant for private clients whose identities are being kept secret, the Associated Press reported. John Konkus, formerly a Republican political consultant who helped shepherd Administrator Pruitt through his confirmation hearings, is EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs, a position which includes signing off on hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants. Konkus’ outside employment was highlighted in a letter Monday from Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which also noted that an EPA ethics official flagged Konkus’ outside contracts as a “financial conflict of interest.” These allegations of moonlighting employees come at a time when Administrator Pruitt is under significant scrutiny for his potential misuse of taxpayer funds and other ethical dalliances.