Martin Luther King Jr.’s last cause — fighting poverty — is the SCLC’s latest chapter

Martin Luther King Jr.’s last cause — fighting poverty — is the SCLC’s latest chapter

Martin Luther King Jr.’s last cause — fighting poverty — is the SCLC’s latest chapter.
Yalonda M. James/The Commercial Appeal Recently, Charles Steele Jr. was preparing to be photographed when he was reminded to remove some notepapers that were sticking out of his jacket.
The organization, which has struggled to find a foothold in the years after legislative victories such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act toppled legal segregation, is rekindling its role in fighting for poor people – something that King was focusing on when he was assassinated in Memphis 49 years ago.
That fight is especially relevant now.
Renewed fight against poverty President Trump has presented a budget that makes unprecedented cuts to food stamps, Medicaid and other programs for impoverished people.
Steele, however, said one reason things got to this point because people became too complacent after the first civil rights battles were won.
“Just because we got the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not to mention the 1965 Voting Rights Act, you can’t think that you’ve arrived…if you think that you got off at the wrong station.
“Some people say that the SCLC is obsolete and that our time is up, but think about this: Every major [civil rights] legislative act or bill that was passed, with the exception of Brown vs. Board of Education, was done by the SCLC,” Steele said.
They were ultimately forced to obey the civil rights laws not just because of the activism of the SCLC and other groups, but because the U.S. administration knew the time for change had come.
Steele, however, said that when it comes to making administrations do the right thing, the fight hasn’t changed that much over the years.

A Legislative Easter Egg Hunt in the Health Bill

A Legislative Easter Egg Hunt in the Health Bill

HELPS Louisiana, Montana and Alaska WHAT IT DOES The health law puts federal Medicaid payments on a diet, creating a set amount it will pay states for each Medicaid beneficiary, based on historical spending, and then letting that amount grow by a fixed amount each year.
Several senators have expressed concerns about the growth rate, which is expected to rise more slowly than medical spending for Medicaid patients.
HELPS Florida, probably.
WHAT IT DOES The Medicaid spending caps are devised to grow slowly over time, and some critics have worried that the restrictive formula will make it hard for states to respond to public health crises, like the widespread lead poisoning in Flint, Mich., or the Zika epidemic, which may become costly in Florida.
HELPS Alaska, Arizona, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, New Mexico and Oklahoma WHAT IT DOES Instead of splitting the bill for health care provided to Native Americans under Medicaid, the bill would require the federal government to pay 100 percent of their medical bills.
But the state with the largest percentage of native residents is Alaska, and Lisa Murkowski, one of that state’s senators, is seen as a shaky vote on the bill.
HELPS Alaska WHAT IT DOES Alaska keeps coming up.
The bill establishes a large fund to help state insurance markets.
HELPS Florida and Texas, especially.
The Affordable Care Act cut those payments, on the theory that more Americans would have insurance coverage, and the Republican bill would restore those cuts and give extra funding to states that did not expand their Medicaid programs under Obamacare.

Among farm workers, immigrants less likely to use SNAP

Among farm workers, immigrants less likely to use SNAP

UC Davis researchers recommend reducing disparities in federal nutrition program participation SACRAMENTO, CA – The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – formerly known as “food stamps” – that helps low-income individuals and families purchase food is less likely to be used by farm workers eligible for the benefit who are immigrants, Hispanic, male, childless or residing in California, new research from UC Davis health economists shows.
“The greatest percentage point increase was among citizens.” A program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, SNAP offers funding for food or plants and seeds to grow food based on eligibility criteria such as income and family size.
They analyzed data from 2003 through 2012 on adult respondents in about 18,000 households included in the National Agricultural Workers Survey of the U.S. Department of Labor, which contains demographic, employment, immigration and health information on crop workers, including their SNAP use or nonuse.
Respondents were divided for comparisons into three groups: citizens, documented immigrants and undocumented immigrants.
The number of farmworker households under the poverty line also increased, from 15 percent in 2008 to 24 percent (9 percentage points) in 2012.
The second highest increase was among undocumented immigrants, which went from 3.9 percent to 16.4 percent (12.5 percentage points).
SNAP participation among documented immigrants rose from 6.3 percent to 7.2 percent (0.9 percentage points).
Immigrants, Hispanics From 2003 through 2012, documented and undocumented farmworker immigrants were 40 percent and 43 percent less likely to participate in SNAP than households headed by non-Hispanic white citizens with the same need, as determined by poverty level and number of children.
Also for 2003 through 2012, the researchers found that farmworkers who were Hispanic citizens were 30 percent less likely to participate in SNAP than non-Hispanic white citizens with the same poverty status and number of children.
SNAP utilization was higher for the poorest, parents and women.

‘Still Trying to Put Lipstick on a Pig.’ Governors Slam Revised Health Care Bill

‘Still Trying to Put Lipstick on a Pig.’ Governors Slam Revised Health Care Bill

Governors Slam Revised Health Care Bill.
(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) — U.S. governors say the latest Republican health care overhaul is dominating private conversations at their summer meeting, and they plan to talk to Vice President Mike Pence about it.
They spoke about how unwinding the Medicaid expansion created by the Affordable Care Act would hurt their states.
Steve Bullock, a Democrat, said Republicans in Congress are “still trying to put lipstick on a pig, but guess what?
Gina Raimondo said she plans to voice strong opposition to Pence when she meets with him privately.
There’s a high degree of anxiety.
Even Republican governors will say that they’re worried, especially the ones that have taken the Medicaid expansion.”
Republican Gov.
Brian Sandoval said he’s already told Pence he’s concerned about protecting people newly eligible for Medicaid.
Democratic Gov.

Revised Senate Health Bill Tries to Win Votes, but Has Fewer Winners

Revised Senate Health Bill Tries to Win Votes, but Has Fewer Winners

Revised Senate Health Bill Tries to Win Votes, but Has Fewer Winners.
It would still make insurance much less affordable for poorer and older Americans who don’t get coverage through work or Medicare.
It would make that insurance less valuable for many people with the most significant health care needs.
They wanted to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s regulations of health insurance, and largely got their wish.
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, faced with objections to his original health care bill from both moderate and conservative Republicans, took a step to the right.
Mr. Cruz championed the change as a way to improve consumer choice and reduce the cost of insurance for Americans who do not have serious health care needs.
In exchange, carriers would also need to offer a set of more comprehensive plans, and the federal government would set aside a fund to help make those plans affordable for sicker Americans.
The Senate bill would establish open-ended federal funding for middle-income consumers in that market, by allowing them to use income-based tax credits to help them buy the heftier health plans.
The new bill would limit federal spending on the program, shifting an increasing share of its cost to states over time.
The bill sets aside extra money to help insurance markets with very high health care costs.

The Cruelty and Fraudulence of Mitch McConnell’s Health Bill

The Cruelty and Fraudulence of Mitch McConnell’s Health Bill

A few days ago the tweeter in chief demanded that Congress enact “a beautiful new HealthCare bill” before it goes into recess.
But now we’ve seen Mitch McConnell’s latest version of health “reform,” and “beautiful” is hardly the word for it.
In fact, it’s surpassingly ugly, intellectually and morally.
The original Senate bill got a lot of justified bad press for slashing Medicaid while offering big tax cuts for the rich.
At the same time, however, the bill would allow people to use tax-favored health savings accounts to pay insurance premiums.
This effectively creates a big new tax shelter that mostly helps people with high incomes who (a) can afford to put a lot of money into such accounts and (b) face high marginal tax rates, and hence get big tax savings.
The subsidy cuts that would send premiums soaring for millions are also still there.
The Affordable Care Act put minimum standards on the kinds of policies insurers were allowed to offer; the new Senate bill gives in to demands by Ted Cruz that insurers be allowed to offer skimpy plans that cover very little, with very high deductibles that would make them useless to most people.
In a special memo, AHIP, the insurance industry trade group, warned against adopting the Cruz proposal, which would “fracture and segment insurance markets into separate risk pools,” leading to “unstable health insurance markets” in which people with pre-existing conditions would lose coverage or have plans that were “far more expensive” than under Obamacare.
But this bill would effectively sabotage all that progress.

More Than 400 People Charged for $1.3 Billion in Medicaid and Medicare Fraud

More Than 400 People Charged for $1.3 Billion in Medicaid and Medicare Fraud

More Than 400 People Charged for $1.3 Billion in Medicaid and Medicare Fraud.
The Justice Department charged more than 400 people across the country in a major crackdown on health care fraud, officials said Thursday.
Many of the health care providers charged had billed Medicaid and Medicare for drugs that were never purchased, while others took advantage of addicts by giving out unnecessary opioid prescriptions for cash or charging for false treatments, according to the Justice Department.
“Some doctors wrote out more prescriptions for controlled substances in one month than entire hospitals were writing,” Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said on Thursday, according to NBC News.
They are a death sentence, plain and simple.” The 412 prosecutions set a record high for the government’s Medicare fraud task force, according to the Justice Department.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions emphasized this action was part of the Trump administration’s effort to stop drug crime.
Since taking over as the country’s top prosecutor, Sessions has made the area a priority, and in May he ordered the federal prosecutors to pursue stricter sentences in drug offenses.
“We will use every tool we have to stop criminals from exploiting the vulnerable people and stealing our hard-earned tax dollars,” Sessions said.
“We are sending a clear message to criminals across this country: We will find you.
We will bring you to justice.

Senate G.O.P. Leaders Unveil Health Care Bill to Try Winning Over Skeptics

Senate G.O.P. Leaders Unveil Health Care Bill to Try Winning Over Skeptics

Senate G.O.P.
WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders on Thursday unveiled a fresh proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, revising their bill to help hold down insurance costs for consumers while keeping a pair of taxes on high-income people that they had planned to eliminate.
Republicans said the revised bill would provide roughly $70 billion in additional funds that states could use to help reduce premiums, hold down out-of-pocket costs and otherwise make health care more affordable.
In a departure from current law, the bill would allow insurers, under certain conditions, to offer health plans that did not comply with standards in the Affordable Care Act.
To address this concern, the Republican bill would create a fund to make payments to insurers for the costs of covering high-risk people enrolled in health plans on the exchanges.
The new draft bill would not include any changes from current law to the net investment income tax or the additional Medicare payroll tax paid by certain high-income people.
Like the previous bill, it would end the requirement that most Americans have health coverage, and it would make deep cuts to Medicaid, capping payments to states and rolling back its expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Though some Republican senators expressed concern about how the previous bill would affect Medicaid, Senate leaders stuck with the same approach in the new version.
In a notable change, the bill would keep the two taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act on people with high incomes: the 3.8 percent tax on investment income and the 0.9 percent payroll tax.
Already, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has said he will vote against beginning debate next week, and Senator Susan Collins of Maine is viewed as likely to vote against it as well, though for different reasons.

The New GOP Health Care Bill Makes One Big Concession. But It Still Might Not Pass

The New GOP Health Care Bill Makes One Big Concession. But It Still Might Not Pass

The New GOP Health Care Bill Makes One Big Concession.
(WASHINGTON) — In a high-stakes bid for conservative support, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to demands from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to allow insurers to sell low-cost, skimpier plans as part of a new but still-reeling health care bill he was releasing Thursday, GOP aides said.
Cruz’s original proposal would let insurers sell plans with minimal coverage, as long as they also sell policies that meet strict coverage requirements set by Obama’s 2010 statute.
Since Democrats uniformly oppose the effort, McConnell needs the votes of 50 of the 52 GOP senators to prevail, and two already seem certain to vote “no” — conservative Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and moderate Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
According to GOP aides and lobbyists, McConnell’s revamped bill includes what seemed a blow to moderates seeking to protect Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor, disabled and nursing home patients.
The rewritten package would add $70 billion to the $112 billion McConnell originally sought that states could use to help insurers curb the growth of premiums and consumers’ other out-of-pocket costs.
To help pay for the added spending, the measure would retain three tax increases Obama’s law slapped on higher- earning people to help finance his law’s expansion of coverage.
In an interview Wednesday with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club,” Trump said he will be “very angry” if the Senate fails to pass the health care measure and said McConnell must “pull it off.”
The reworked measure’s key elements remain, easing Obama’s requirements that insurers cover specified services like hospital care and cutting the Medicaid health care program for the poor, disabled and nursing home patients.
Obama’s penalties on people who don’t buy coverage would be eliminated and federal health care subsidies would be less generous.

Difficult path seen for Illinois workers comp reform

Difficult path seen for Illinois workers comp reform

Workers compensation reform in the state of Illinois may be tough given the political climate in the state, experts said.
“The governor vetoed the tax increase and the two budget bills, and then his vetoes were overridden by House majority Democrats with some assistance from some House Republicans.
We need to rein in medical costs by adopting a Medicare-based fee schedule system for medical procedures that are included in workers compensation.
House Bill 4068, which proposed a drug formulary, saw no forward movement and is likely dead, said Mr. Schneider.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, proposed a Medicare-based fee schedule and would have capped maximum weekly benefits at $775.15 through 2021.
Insurance trade associations said the bill addressed many of the key issues in the Illinois workers comp system.
Rep. Laura Fine, a sponsor of House Bill 2622, said the bill would form a nonprofit workers comp fund that would not be focused on making a profit.
Rep. Jay Hoffman, a sponsor of House Bill 2525, said the bill would bring comprehensive reform by making Illinois a state that has prior rate approval of insurance workers comp rates, as well as an enhanced fraud unit.
“In 2011, a bill was passed that provided comprehensive cost reduction in the workers comp system by taking away some benefits and reducing the amount that providers of medical procedures receive by 30%, yet we haven’t seen those (savings) passed on by the insurance companies to employers,” Mr. Hoffman said in a Tuesday interview with Business Insurance.
“We’ve given him a lot of possibilities to reform workers comp insurance in the state of Illinois and reduce those prices for our employers who have to buy the insurance.