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Need new health insurance NOW?

If you experience certain life changes, you don’t have to wait for Open Enrollment in November to enroll in affordable health coverage on healthcare.gov or your state’s marketplace. You have 60 days after the following events to apply for a Special Enrollment Period and enroll:

• Moving to a new zip code or county
• Getting married or divorced
• Having a baby, adopting or becoming a foster parent
• Becoming a U.S. citizen or getting a green card

You have 60 days before or after the following to enroll: 

• Losing your health insurance from your job
• Turning 26 and aging off your parent’s health plan

And if you are experiencing domestic violence and want to apply for your own health plan, you can do so at any time.

Learn more about Special Enrollment Periods at healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.

 

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RWVoices

Thursday
Mar072019

Conservative states pushing for change

Montana optimistic for permanent Medicaid Expansion

In 2015, Montana Women Vote, our Montana-based regional coordinator, led the effort to pass Medicaid expansion in the Montana Legislature. Since then, nearly 100,000 Montanans have gained healthcare coverage, almost 1 in 10 Montanans. Medicaid expansion has reduced Montana’s uninsured rate from 20% to 7% and has resulted in state savings to Montana’s general fund. Forty eight percent of Medicaid expansion enrollees reside outside of Montana’s seven largest urban areas, and the program covers nearly 16,000 American Indians, roughly 20% of the American Indian population in Montana. Medicaid expansion has been a lifeline for access to healthcare in rural Montana and Indian Country. Unfortunately, without legislative action, the program will expire in July 2019.

Montana Women Vote is organizing to reauthorize Montana's Medicaid expansion program in the 2019 Legislative Session. During a press conference in the Montana State Capitol, Rep. Mary Caferro announced House Bill 425 (left in photo), which would lift the MedEx sunset, and make the program permanent, without restrictive barriers. Some legislators are calling for changes to the program that would kick up to 43,000 Montanans off their health insurance, according to a recent study by the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. Proposed work and reporting requirements will increase costs in Montana, create new bureaucracy, and cost people their insurance. Montana Women Vote will continue organizing and putting pressure on lawmakers to protect this vital program without burdensome requirements designed to take coverage away from those who need it most.

Advocacy day in Mississippi, making women a priority

The 2019 Mississippi legislative session has started and the Mississippi Black Women's Roundtable (MS BWR), our Jackson-based regional coordinator, has been walking through the hallways, offices, and chambers of the State Capitol to advocate for women's rights and centering women's economic security. More than ever, their network has stood with them as they work to protect women's wages through Equal Pay legislation, provide safer workplace environments for pregnant women, expand access to healthcare and reproductive health care for women, increase women's wages including tipped workers, expand protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, protect child care for low-income working women, and protect safety net programs for women and their families including child care. 
 
Through their advocacy, MS BWR was able to give voice to the important economic security issues women face every single day and build a broad based bipartisan coalition.  They partnered with Planned Parenthood for successful Women in the Halls Advocacy Days and hosted their annual Equal Pay Advocacy Day. MS BWR understands that until women fill the halls of the state capitol there is no accountability to prioritize women and our families in the policy making process. During their Equal Pay Advocacy Day, the special guest, Equal Pay Advocate Amanda McMillian, shared her empowering story of triumphing against wage discrimination.

“Although we didn't get some key bills passed this year, we are empowered through continuing to push for important legislation around the issues that are important to women and their families, said Cassandra Welchlin, co-convener of MS BWR (center in photo).  MS BWR will continue to lift up the stories of the stories and issues of Mississippi women, particularly women of color and their families who are most affected by these issues.

Thursday
Feb282019

Why is the Title X rule so bad for women’s health?

Title X rule is a devastating attack on women’s health!

The Trump administration has rolled out its latest attack on women’s health, the final rule governing eligibility for federal Title X family planning funds. While the GOP effort to “defund Planned Parenthood” grabbed most of the headlines, the rule may be even more insidious. If allowed to go into effect, it could transfer millions of taxpayer dollars away from real reproductive health clinics and give that money to religiously-affiliated fake clinics.

That would be devastating to the more than 4 million low-income people who use the federal Title X family planning program to obtain free or reduced-cost birth control, STI testing, and cancer screening at clinics they know and trust! The rule is slated to go into effect 60 days after its official publication in the Federal Register on March 4 – so a little over two months from now.

Voice your opposition to the rule using our RWV social media badges (which you can find HERE) and activate your networks!

What makes this new rule so bad?

Family planning providers are already prohibited from using Title X federal funds to provide abortions. But under the new rule, clinics that also offer abortion care would no longer be able to serve Title X patients without creating a whole new clinic first. 

That’s because the rule requires both financial and physical separation, and is explicit about what that physical separation should look like. Under the rule, HHS would determine whether a clinic has separate “treatment, consultation, examination and waiting rooms, office entrances and exits, shared phone numbers, email addresses, educational services, and websites” and “separate personnel, electronic or paper-based health care records, and workstations” for abortion services and for those funded by Title X.

Clinic staff would no longer be able to provide patients with full and accurate information or a referral to an abortion provider. As a result of those restrictions, nearly half of current Title X grantees, including Planned Parenthood and three states, have said they won’t be able to participate. The medical community overwhelmingly opposes the rule, warning that it “would undermine patients’ access to high-quality medical care and information, dangerously interfere with the patient-physician relationship and conflict with physicians’ ethical obligations, exclude qualified providers, and jeopardize public health.”

Public health experts warn that blocking community clinics like Planned Parenthood from the Title X program would force other providers to “increase their client caseloads by 70%, on average.” The administration plans to fill the void with fake clinics, often religiously affiliated, that focus primarily on abstinence and “natural family planning” in lieu of the full range of contraception. That’s because the new rule isn’t just the latest battle in the rightwing war on Planned Parenthood. It’s also part of the Trump administration’s larger war on medical science.

The new rule permits Title X funded clinics to give biased and misleading counseling and to withhold information about all reproductive health care options, including medically approved contraceptive methods (such as birth control pills or IUDs). Under companion rules issued last November, religiously affiliated non-profits can now qualify as Title X providers if they offer “a broad range of family planning services” such as “abstinence counseling” and “fertility awareness-based methods” like the rhythm method. The rule requires providers to offer at least one hormonal method, like the Pill, but makes clear that “broad range” doesn’t have to include very much.

Today, a woman who qualifies for Title X can walk into her local Planned Parenthood and get a free or low-cost IUD, or year-long vaginal ring, or any one of more than a dozen other options depending on which method is right for her. Under the new rules, her only option might be a Christian clinic offering condoms, one kind of birth control pill, and lots of aggressive counseling on abstinence and the rhythm method—with a heavy dose of shaming.

Raising Women’s Voices has been active in fighting the rule and helping to build the strongest possible legal case. Our newsletter series last summer highlighted all of the ways that the rule could hurt marginalized communities and we helped publicize the public comment period. Ultimately half a million people wrote in opposition to the rule.

Earlier this month, RWV staff met with officials from the Office of Management and Budget to call out the administration’s failure under the law to evaluate the rule’s real health and economic costs, particularly for women of color. One state, Washington, has already filed suit and more lawsuits are expected. When this rule goes to court, the administration will have to justify why it ignored the law and the needs of four million low-income people.

Thursday
Feb142019

Big love for all our Raising Women’s Voices partners today!

Sending health policy valentines to all of our amazing partners!


Thanks to Nina Oishi and Carrie Rogers of Community Catalyst for dreaming up this Valentine!

Every day, our Raising Women’s Voices regional coordinators in 29 states are working hard to protect our care from continuing attacks at the federal level and in a number of conservative states.  Today, we thank all of them for their incredibly hard work and persistence!
 
We also thank all of you who read our e-newsletters every week, follow us onFacebook and Twitter and take action when we call for it!


Shoring up the ACA’s consumer protections

 

In the face of ongoing federal attacks targeting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and women’s and LGBTQ health, our regional coordinators in some of the more progressive states have been working hard to push for proactive state level policies.
 
With an eye on the Texas v. Azar court case that threatens to overturn the entire ACA,  Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care (our regional coordinator in that state), is working to codify many of the ACA’s important consumer protections into state law.  “An Act to Protect Health Care Coverage for Maine Families,” or LD 1, was the first bill introduced during Maine’s legislative session, signaling its importance to progressive lawmakers who campaigned on health care. Among other protections, the legislation would enshrine the ACA’s requirement that insurers cover the ACA’s 10 Essential Health Benefits, prohibit insurers from refusing to cover people with pre-existing conditions and require insurers to offer coverage to dependent children up to 26 years old.  

 

State action to secure and expand reproductive health protections

 

New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (NM RCRC), our Albuquerque based regional coordinator, scored a victory last week when the House voted to Advance HB 51, a bill that would repeal the state’s unconstitutional, pre-Roe v. Wade statute on the books that criminalizes abortion in almost all circumstances. While the New Mexico Constitution protects abortion rights to an extent following a 1998 state Supreme Court ruling citing the Equal Rights Amendment, advocates are concerned that if Roe v. Wade is overturned and New Mexico’s old statute is still in place, these Constitutional protections could be tested. As a result, NM RCRC and their partners are working hard to remove their state’s outdated abortion law and protect New Mexico women and their health care.

 
As part of their efforts, NM RCRC co-sponsored a letter signed by a group of 90 clergy supporting women’s right to access abortion. The letter appeared as a full-page ad in the Albuquerque Journal. In a follow-up interview with the JournalJoan Lamunyon Sanford,Executive Director of NM RCRC said in reference to HB 51: “Any law that criminalizes doctors or patients needs to go and does not reflect the values of the people of New Mexico.” Lamunyon Sanford went on to say, “People of faith have been supporting access to abortion and reproductive health care even before Roe v. Wade, and the conservative evangelical right does not own the moral argument on this issue.”

This week, our Chicago-based regional coordinator, EverThrive Illinois, joined advocates to support the introduction of a package of bills that would expand abortion rights and access in the state. One bill would update the state’s 1975 abortion law, which treats abortion like a crime. The Illinois bill would remove criminal penalties for doctors providing abortion care, and treat abortion as health care, and not a criminal act. Another bill in the package would remove a requirement that minors without parental consent receive judicial approval for an abortion.
 
The momentum in New Mexico and Illinois comes on the heels of the successful passage of New York’s Reproductive Health Act, which RWV-NY supported. The Reproductive Health Act secures and protects access to abortion in New York by strengthening and updating New York state law and bringing it in line with the standard of Roe v. Wade.
 
The Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), our Denver-based regional coordinator, is pushing for the adoption of what could become one of the most progressive reproductive health bills in the country – the Colorado Access to Reproductive Health Equity Act. Also known as the CARE Act, this bill will ensure that everyone in the state can get the full range of reproductive health care they need without barriers due to financial limits, age, immigration status, stigma or personal agendas.

 

Expanding health coverage to undocumented immigrants

 

Regional coordinators in bluer states have also been paving the way for the creation of more equitable access to health care through new  initiatives to expand coverage to more people.
 
After years of hard work by advocates like our Los Angeles based regional coordinator,California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ), California Governor Gavin Newsom recently made a commitment of $209 billion in health equity and prevention, including $260 million to expand access to 138,000 undocumented young adults after July 30. Despite this exciting step forward, there is still a great deal of work to be done to expand health care to undocumented adults of all ages in California. A recent report produced by University of California Berkeley found that expanding Medi-Cal to all low-income adults regardless of immigration status would extend eligibility to approximately 1.15 million undocumented adults in 2020. According to the report, it would close one of the biggest remaining coverage gaps in the state’s health care system, reducing the state’s uninsured population by as much as one-quarter. CLRJ is working in coalition to support legislation that would address this coverage gap.
 
Our regional coordinator in New Jersey, New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA), is working to expand coverage to undocumented immigrant children. Through their Cover all Kids initiative, NJCA and their partners seek to extend coverage to the nearly 76,000 uninsured children in New Jersey. Although 75% of these children are citizens and therefore eligible for coverage, approximately half have a non-citizen parent. Many such parents remain fearful and confused about their family’s health insurance eligibility because of the recently proposed public charge rule. NJCA is working with partners to try to address some of the confidentiality concerns among immigrants by establishing barriers to information sharing between the state and federal government.
 
As we celebrate the progress being made at the state level by our regional coordinators in more progressive states, we recognize the challenges that remain not just at the federal level, but also in some of the more conservative states, where state lawmakers are working to roll back protections for women and LGBTQ people.  RWV will continue to work at the state and federal level to defend, and whenever possible, expand these protections.

 

Speaking of love….

 

If you and your Valentine are planning on getting married any time soon, you both may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period in which you can apply for coverage through healthcare.gov or your state insurance marketplace. You have 60 days after the wedding to shop for and enroll in an affordable health plan.  Want to learn more? Go to healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596
 
Want to learn more about Special Enrollment Periods, which allow you to apply for health coverage outside of the short open enrollment period that starts each November 1? Check out the Raising Women’s Voices website homepage to see what other Qualifying Life Events can make you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.

Thursday
Feb072019

Number of underinsured people is rising

More people are underinsured or have gaps in insurance coverage

A new study out today from the Commonwealth Fund flags a troubling trend: While the number of people with no health insurance has declined dramatically since 2010, when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law, increasing numbers of American adults are underinsured. Underinsurance is growing fastest among adults with employer-sponsored health plans that have high deductibles. It is also rising among those who buy plans on the ACA marketplaces, but who are not eligible for premium subsidies or cost-sharing reductions.

What does underinsured mean and why are more people experiencing this problem? The Commonwealth Fund defines underinsured this way:

  • Having high out-of-pocket costs, excluding premium payments, equal to 10% or more of household income over the previous 12 months;
  • Having high out-of-pocket costs, excluding premiums, equal to  5% or more for households living under 200%  of the Federal Poverty Limit ($24,120 for an individual or $49,200 for a family of four).
  • Having high deductibles (equal to 5% or more of household income).

The  increase in the percentage of  underinsured people with health coverage through their jobs (up from 17% in 2010 to 28% in 2018 %) is most likely related to the trend among employers of increasing plan deductibles and co-pays to offset rising health care costs, the study suggests.  For those buying their own plans, such as through healthcare.gov and state-based insurance marketplaces, the problem is that people with incomes over 400% of the Federal Poverty Level ($48,240 for an individual or $98,400 for a family of four) are not eligible for federal premium subsidy assistance and reductions in the amount they have to pay for cost-sharing. So, people in this situation may choose ACA health plans with the lowest monthly premiums, but then are faced with high deductibles and other cost-sharing requirements.

The Commonwealth study, which was a telephone survey conducted from June to November of 2018, did not take into account the expanded sale of short-term “junk” health insurance plans made possible by new Trump administration rules that went into effect in November.  Those plans are not required to cover all of the benefits that are included in ACA plans, so people purchasing those plans may find themselves underinsured, facing considerable out-of-pocket costs.

Being underinsured, or having gaps in your coverage during the year, often means you will have trouble paying your medical bills, the study found.

Are women more affected by these trends? Unfortunately, the Commonwealth study did not provide gender breakouts.  But, we know from other studies that the highest growth in out-of-pocket health spending over the past few years has been among those who are younger, lower income and female.
 
What can be done to address these problems? The Commonwealth Fund study suggested that federal and state governments could enact policies to extend the ACA’s coverage gains and improve cost protections in ACA and employer-sponsored plans.  Examples of such efforts include expanding Medicaid in those states that have not yet done so, in order to cover more people with affordable plans, and limiting or banning the sale of those short-term junk plans (which are likely to be a bigger factor this year in causing underinsurance). Some states are also trying “reinsurance” policies that create a state fund to reimburse health plans for extraordinary expenses in treating seriously ill people, so that the plans do not pass on those costs to all enrollees. Some states are also examining the possibility of allowing people to buy into Medicaid plans, if they earn a little bit too much to qualify for Medicaid. The study findings may also help groups pushing for Medicare for all plans, since one of the chief objections to some of these proposals is that people will not want to lose their employer-sponsored health plans.

The study also recommended reinstating ACA marketplace navigator and outreach funding, to help people make choices of health plans that will not saddle them with unaffordable deductibles. That recommendation was issued on the same day the news broke about more ACA-related pages disappearing from websites operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Researchers from Sunlight, who have documented a series of quiet website content removals since the Trump administration took office, reported today that 10 pages about the Affordable Care Act and its benefits were taken down from the Office of Population Affairs website in early 2017 and the content has yet to be replaced.

Thursday
Jan312019

Women lead push to protect our health care!

House hearing on protecting people with pre-existing conditions!

This week, the House Ways and Means Committee held its first policy hearing of the new Congress, highlighting ways that the Trump administration has put people with pre-existing conditions at risk by expanding junk insurance plans, sabotaging ACA outreach and enrollment, and refusing to defend the ACA in court. More than 67 million American women have pre-existing conditions.

In a surprise announcement during the hearing, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) highlighted what is at stake with news that that she had been diagnosed with small cell lymphocytic lymphoma last year. “Ways and Means Republicans have voted to defund, undercut, and undermine our country’s health care system. They have made it clear as day that they care more about the cost of the ACA than the value of human life,” Moore said. “I am announcing my remission today to remind everyone on this committee that I am a living example of the lifesaving value of essential health benefits. For my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that is a cost worth paying.”

The House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee is also planning a hearing in the coming weeks into the Texas v. Azar court case that threatens to unwind the entire health care law, including consumer protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

RWV joins advocates from across the country at Families USA Health Action Conference!

Ann Danforth, Senior State Advocacy Manager for the Community Catalyst Women’s Health Program, and Sarah Christopherson, Policy Advocacy Director for the National Women’s Health Network, represented Raising Women’s Voices last week in Washington, D.C., at Families USA’s 2019 Health Action Conference, “Fighting for America’s Families.” We joined national and state leaders in the health care movement for an opportunity to reflect, share stories, learn from one another and re-energize for our work in the year to come.

A theme that ran throughout the entire conference was one of strong women leaders, and was embodied by the conference’s first speaker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (pictured above).  Speaker Pelosi kicked off the conference by celebrating the work of the advocates in the room. She told the audience that thanks to our work, “the most important issue in the campaign was health care,” adding that “thanks to you, there were 10,000 grassroots events across the country to protect the ACA.” She spelled out the House Democrats’ “For the People” agenda, which includes preserving the ACA, expanding health care, and reducing prescription drug prices. She reminded us that, as advocates and policy makers, “We don’t just want the grassroots to mobilize, we want them to give us their views on what policy should look like.”

Sister Simone Campbell spoke about the moral imperative she feels to engage in health advocacy. She is Executive Director of NETWORK and a longtime health advocate who organized the 2014 “Nuns on the Bus Tour” in support of the ACA. Most recently, she and her colleagues took to the road again with their “Nuns on the Bus ‘On the Road to Mar-a-Lago’” tour, which included 54 events in 21 states. The goal of the tour was to hold members of Congress accountable for their multiple attempts to repeal the ACA, and their eventual successful attempt to repeal the ACA’s individual mandate through the 2017 tax bill. She highlighted the power of real people’s stories, and echoed Speaker Pelosi’s call to hold elected officials accountable. “You all need to continue to knock on the doors, engage, and make clear that we, the people, are watching,” she urged.

Stacey Abrams (pictured above) tell us to educate, advocate and activate! The 2018 candidate for Georgia governor and founder of Fair Fight shared her brother’s struggles with mental illness and pointed to a health care system that failed him. She stressed the importance of Medicaid expansion in increasing coverage for people with behavioral and mental health issues. Abrams called on health advocates to follow three simple steps that will enable us to achieve the social justice change we want to see: first, educate the public and our leaders using stories. “This is your life; make it their learning,” she said. Second,advocate on behalf of the issues we care about. And third, activate people to turn out and make a difference. “If you educate, advocate and activate, we will claim victory for America.”

Experts discuss threats to women’s health and LGBTQ health, and the negative impact of racial and gender biases. During breakout panels, national and state experts covered a variety of RWV priority issues, including state and federal threats to women’s health and LGBTQ health, and strategies for pushing back. Panelists from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), American Conference of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights discussed the harm of recent Trump administration regulations for women,  particularly low-income women of color. Examples include rules targeting the Title X family planning program and the ACA’s contraceptive coverage benefit. They also pointed to proactive state work, such as Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Act and New York’s recent Reproductive Health Act, as a means to protect women at the state level against harmful federal threats.

At a panel focused on LGBTQ health, Out2Enroll’s Katie Keith talked about the health coverage gains for trans people under the ACA, as well as the remaining work that needs to be done. In 2013, 59% of trans people didn’t have health insurance, whereas in 2017, 25% of trans people didn’t have health insurance, she said. Luc Athayde-Rizzaro from theNational Center for Transgender Equality discussed the implications of the anticipated Trump administration rollback of the Obama administration’s rule interpreting the ACA’s Section 1557 non-discrimination provision, often referred to as a “health care civil rights law,” as well as some of the opportunities that exist at the state level to secure health care protections for transgender people.

 

                                                                               
At a breakout panel entitled Listen to us! How racial and gender biases undermine women’s health, Ann Marie Benitez of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Joia Adele Crear-Perry of the National Birth Equity Collaborative and Community Catalyst board member (pictured above), Rachel Hardeman of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Aisha Liferidge of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, talked about how racial and gender biases drive health inequities. Using a reproductive justice framework, speakers grounded the conversation by first explaining the history of eugenics in the U.S. They discussed the history of forced sterilization, coercion, and medical experimentation targeting women of color. They talked about the ways in which this legacy of racism has led to providers minimizing the pain of women of color, as their needs go unmet and racial health disparities among women of color persist. The panel concluded with a conversation about state policy efforts to begin to address disparities, such as Medicaid coverage for doulas, and requirements that health care providers undergo implicit bias trainings.

During the final plenary, And Still We Rise: Women Leaders who Resist and Thrive,Chirlane McCray, Founder of ThriveNYC and First Lady of New York City, spoke about the importance of prioritizing mental health care. “There is no health without mental health,” she said. The panel of social justice leaders who followed her – including moderator Sinsi Hernandez-Cancio of Families USA, Keisha Bradford of Health Center Association of Nebraska, Cristina Jimenez of United we Dream, Monica Simpson of SisterSong, andAnna Chu of the National Women’s Law Center – reiterated First Lady McCray’s message, speaking to the importance of mental health for everyone, including yourself. “Not taking care of yourself is an act of violence against yourself,” Jiminez said, when asked how she continues to fight for what’s right, even in the face of adversity and burnout.

What did the government shutdown cost?

This week, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 5-week shutdown of the federal government cost the US economy $11 billion. Although most federal health programs were protected because HHS was already funded through this coming September, the longer-than-expected shutdown had serious health-related consequences for hundreds of thousands of Americans. Federal employees faced a reset of their deductibles right as they weren’t getting paid, federal contractors couldn’t make premium payments on their employees’ plans, and ACA marketplace enrollees dependent on the IRS to certify their income couldn’t receive financial aid to help offset their premium costs. And of course, Indian Health Service workers were asked to continue to serve 2.2 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives without pay, putting all non-emergency care on hold.

Late last Friday, Donald Trump caved to growing pressure from rank-and-file Senate Republicans and agreed to support a clean continuing resolution funding the government through February 15 without any money for the wall or other new anti-immigration measures. After preemptively declaring himself solely responsible for the shutdown in December, public opinion polls consistently showed that a majority of Americans oppose the wall and blamed Republicans for the longest government shutdown in history. In exchange for re-opening the government without wall funding, congressional leadership agreed to convene a bipartisan bicameral conference committee on the Homeland Security appropriations bill to negotiate the president’s demands, along with protections for the Dreamers and other outstanding immigration concerns.

Democrats are not expected to agree to more than fig leaf funding for Trump’s signature issue—for example, they may agree to additional funds to improve existing fencing—raising questions about whether parts of the government will once again shut down in two weeks. But even among Senate Republicans there appears to be very little appetite for another“kick from the mule,” in GOP Leader Mitch McConnell’s words.

Trump readying a sneak approach to Medicaid block grants

Continuing its seemingly relentless attack on Medicaid recipients, the Trump administration revealed earlier this month that it is working on guidance to allow states to institute Medicaid block grants through the existing 1115 waiver process. A long-time conservative goal, Republicans in the previous Congress repeatedly tried and failed to block grant Medicaid as part of their ACA repeal attempts. The proposal CMS is considering would allow states to apply for less money in exchange for greater “flexibility” to spend it how they want instead of on protected groups like pregnant women and people with disabilities.

 It’s not clear whether the administration actually has the legal authority to offer block grants under current law. But at least one important voice is adamant that they do not. House E&C Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said bluntly: "CMS doesn’t have the legal authority to block grant Medicaid. Block grants undermine the protections of the Medicaid program and put our most vulnerable citizens at risk.” Any move to issue such guidance would almost certainly prompt immediate oversight action by the new House majority.

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