As the Senate rushes to push through its version of Trumpcare, almost every day brings new details about its secretive health care bill. And each new revelation is worse than the last. One of the latest details to emerge is that the Senate bill may allow states to waive coverage of essential health benefits (things like maternity care or prescription drug coverage) for small employer and individual plans.
These waivers would not only be devastating for the individual market in waiver states, but they would also impact millions of people who get health insurance through an employer, according to a new CAP report. These waivers would mean the return of annual and lifetime benefit limits in any state—not just those that waive coverage for essential benefits.
And the impact would be huge: CAP estimates that the Senate’s Trumpcare bill would erode or eliminate financial protections for 27 million people with employer coverage. And that’s on top of the millions of people likely to lose their health care altogether. For too long, many American families—even those with health insurance—were just one illness away from bankruptcy. We cannot let the Senate bring that back.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Speak out. Sit in. We have just days to let the Senate know that we will not sit quietly as they try to pass a health care bill just as cruel as the House version but in different packaging. If there was ever a moment to speak out, this is it. Go to TrumpcareToolkit.org for all the resources you need to contact your representative online. Then go here to see if our friends at UltraViolet are hosting a sit-in in your state tomorrow.
Obstruction. Always seems to be trending in Washington. But today we’re talking obstruction of justice. Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the election, is seeking interviews with high-ranking intelligence officials. This is the latest and surest indication that he is investigating potential obstruction of justice by Trump.
Russia. Speaking of Russia… Yesterday the Senate voted almost unanimously—97 to 2—to allow Congress to stop Trump from taking unilateral efforts to roll back sanctions against Russia.
Alexandria. As of last night, Rep. Steve Scalise, who was shot in the hip while practicing for a congressional baseball game yesterday, was still in critical condition and will reportedly need to undergo further operations. Yesterday’s shooting brought a rare sense of unity to Washington. But this tragedy underscores the fact that gun violence is as American as apple pie and yes, baseball. Need proof? Just hours after the Alexandria shooting, a gunman killed three coworkers and then himself at a San Francisco UPS building.
Ch-Ch-Changes. The bad kind. Yesterday, the Department of Education announced its intent to change two higher education rules and to conduct a new regulatory process to rewrite the rules. The borrower defense rule, the first of the two targeted regulations, provides a path for defrauded students to have their loans discharged and holds schools financially accountable for the cost of loan forgiveness. It was set to go into effect July 1, but is now delayed. The second change is to the gainful employment rule, which cuts off federal financial aid for career training programs whose graduates leave with debt that makes up too high a share of their income. This rule went into effect in 2015, but now the Trump Administration wants to renegotiate it. Reopening the gainful employment rule will do nothing more than waste taxpayer resources as a giveaway to low-quality career training programs.
DACAversary. Today marks five years since the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was announced. Since then, nearly 790,000 young people have been protected from deportation and given the opportunity to work. But now DACA recipients, many of whom have never known a home outside the United States, are under attack by the Trump Administration. Already in Trump’s five months in office DACA recipients have been framed, detained, deported, and stripped of their DACA protections. Policymakers should work to ensure that DACA remains a strong and reliable source of protection for immigrant youth and stop Trump’s mass deportation agenda.
Hikes. Not the outdoor kind. Yesterday, the Federal Reserve announced its intent to raise interest rates by .25 percent. At first glance, this may seem like good news. But the reality is, raising the interest rate in under current economic conditions is likely to slow the growth of real wages and employment. According to a group of leading economists, the Fed should instead reconsider its 2 percent inflation target.
UNDER THE RADAR
Under Attack. Yesterday, House Republicans took the first steps in a sweeping attack on worker rights. The House Education and Workforce subcommittee held a hearing on three anti-worker bills, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, the Employee Privacy Protection Act, and the Employee Rights Act. These bills show congressional Republicans’ efforts to use the voter suppression playbook to attack unions: While none of these bills makes unions illegal, they all take steps to make it more difficult to form them, which in turn makes it harder for workers to ensure they can share in their employers’ gains. The most egregious of the three bills is the misleadingly named Employee Rights Act, which would further rig the system against workers attempting to join together at work. Among other provisions, the bill would also require that a union win a majority of all workers eligible to vote in the election, not just a majority of the workers that do vote in the election. By that standard, each of the bill’s cosponsors would have lost their own elections.
Down Under. Australia’s harsh detention and refugee policies have caused thousands of people to endure extreme conditions. But under a new settlement, Australia has agreed to pay $53 million in one of the largest human rights class action settlements in the country’s history.