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RWVoices

Thursday
Jan042018

Got health insurance? Start using it!

We’ve Got Coverage. Let’s Get Health Care!
                                                                                                                                       
We fought hard in 2017 to keep the Affordable Care Act and help millions of women, LGBTQ people and families learn they could still enroll in good, affordable coverage for 2018. Our New Year’s resolution is to get people started using that coverage!
 
We’ll be devoting the first two months of the year to promoting health insurance literacy and motivating people to use their health insurance. Raising Women’s Voices has lots of experience doing this from our successful My Health, My Voice campaign that has provided thousands of health insurance user guides and personal health journals to women across the country. 
 
Experience has taught us that the best way to engage newly-insured people is to tell them about the free preventive services that come with their health insurance. Our new social media campaign, targeted to women of color, Latinx people, LGBTQ people, immigrants and low-income families, does just that.
 
As we did for our Open Enrollment campaign, we developed our new campaign’s social media materials by listening to our RWV Regional Coordinators from Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas, who helped us select photos that feature people who reflect the diverse people they serve.
 
Each of the social media badges, like the one shown above, will be posted with text that includes a link to a relevant flyer or fact sheet like this one, which you can find here to download and use in your community. The flyer lists some of the most popular preventive services, like check-ups and flu shots, that are available at no charge to anyone with health insurance. (By the way, that includes people with employer-based health plans!) But we caution that you must use a provider who is in your health plan’s network.

For many of the women RWV serves, free access to birth control can be life-changing. But, we are worried that some women may believe the ACA’s contraceptive coverage without co-pays benefit has been repealed by the Trump administration. In fact, the Trump birth control rules have been blocked by two federal courts. So, we will be using social media badges like this one to get the word out that birth control is still a free women’s preventive services benefit for 2018.
 
Another of the free preventive services we will be highlighting in our campaign is testing for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). This message is especially important for those in our communities who are at higher risk and could go undiagnosed. Some of our regional coordinators, such as the Afiya Center in Dallas and Women with a Vision in New Orleans, work directly with women, LGBTQ people and families with HIV.
 
We are also communicating the importance of establishing a relationship with a primary care provider (PCP) who can oversee your health care. For many people, finding a doctor they are comfortable with can be a challenge. This can be especially true for LGBTQ people and for immigrants whose first language is not English. The posting text for these graphics will lead people to a fact sheet with tips on finding a primary care provider who not only takes their insurance, but is a good fit for them personally. The fact sheet is written to empower people and lets them know they deserve to be treated with respect by their providers. You can download it here.
 
We also created an LGBTQ specific social media graphic for this topic and will link the post to GLMA’s (previously known as the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association) Provider Directory. We hope to connect LGBTQ people across the country to vetted providers they can trust.
 
Getting health insurance is just the first step in taking charge of your health.Knowing how to use your insurance in our health care system is yet another challenge. We’re proud to be working with Community Catalyst on this new effort that we hope will make a difference in the lives of many newly insured people in 2018.

 

Thursday
Dec282017

Five key lessons from 2017 will power our 2018 advocacy!

Lessons learned in 2017 have prepared us for 2018

With the New Year approaching, Raising Women’s Voices and our 30 regional coordinators around the country have been reflecting on our experiences this year on the front lines of advocacy to protect women’s health and LGBTQ health. What have we learned in 2017 that will power our work in 2018?

Lesson 1: Take to the streets! RWV and our regional coordinators kicked off the year by participating in the January 21,  2017,  Women’s March on Washington, as well as sister marches in 10 states (CA, CO, GA, MA, MI, NY, OR, TX, WA, WV) to raise awareness about the importance of women’s health within the larger context of women’s rights. We distributed RWV-branded “We march for women’s health” stickers to be handed out during marches across the country. Coordinators in five states (CA, CO, MI, OR, WV) had speaking roles at their local marches.

During 2017, RWV and our regional coordinators participated in more than 141 visibility actions, conveying pro-ACA messages through street actions like holding up signs at busy intersections, organizing prayer vigils and participating in rallies to defend the coverage gains and protections provided by the ACA.

We’ll be marching again on January 20, 2018, in the second round of Women’s Marches taking place in many cities across the country! Please join us. 

Take a moment now to make a year-end charitable donation to help support the work of Raising Women’s Voices in 2018. Your donation is more tax deductible now than it will be in 2018, because of Trump’s tax bill. You can make a donation online through the Network for Good page of Community Catalyst, a fiscal sponsor for RWV. Earmark your gift for RWV.

Lesson 2: Make it personal. We started by asking women to answer this question for themselves and their families: “What if I lose coverage?” We did this through a national #IfILoseCoverage social media campaign we launched, in collaborationwith the Ms. Foundation for Women. We provided a handy sign template women could print out and fill in with their answer to the question. Then they could take a photo and post it online. RWV regional coordinators gathered more than 125 stories that they were able to use in their state-based advocacy. We used stories to develop social media badges and materials highlighting the potential impact of ACA repeal on women and their families.

Lesson 3: Keep it simple! RWV’s national coordinating team realized we had to figure out how to take wonky federal-level policy discussions and turn them into information that our regional coordinators and their grassroots constituencies would relate to personally and which would spur them to take action in defense of the ACA. We joined national coalitions to help track developments and strategy at a high level. Then, we worked hard with our regional coordinators to develop messaging and campaigns that would reach and mobilize the grassroots. One of our most successful tactics was use of simple cartoon-like graphics like the one shown here to help build understanding. RWV supported 11 regional coordinators in 10 states (CA, CO, GA, IL, KY, LA, MA, NY, OR, TX) to hold 69 informational sessions to help women understand what would be at stake if the ACA were repealed. RWV’s regional coordinators also submitted more than 52 letters to the editor/op-eds and had over 120 press hits during the year.

Lesson 4: Bring it home! In anticipation of Trump administration efforts to roll back the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirements, six RWV regional coordinators helped win contraceptive coverage protections in their home states (CO, MA, ME, NY, OR, WA).  The Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health (OFRH) celebrated adoption of the most far-reaching of these policies, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which requires coverage of the full range of reproductive health related services with no cost-sharing. The new policy covers contraceptives, abortion, screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted infections and prenatal and postpartum care.

During RWV’s annual convening in September, Maria Ignacia of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), pictured at right, described COLOR’s efforts successfully advocating for the adoption of a state level policy that allows women to pick up a year’s supply of birth control at one time. COLOR helped drum up support for this bipartisan bill through their Latina/o Advocacy Day. Leni Preston of Consumer Health First, RWV’s Maryland-based RC, spoke about their work building momentum for the passage of the Family Planning Services – Continuity of Care Act, the only policy in the country to proactively address the threat to women’s health if the federal government revokes funding under Title X, the national family planning program. Under the new law, $2.7 million in state funding would be put towards establishing a Family Planning Program at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene if federal support for Planned Parenthood is withdrawn.

Coordinators in ME and MA helped win adoption of contraceptive equity policies that codify and extend the ACA’s birth control benefit. RWV-NY helped win a rule that would require insurance carriers offering health plans in New York’s individual and small group market to cover the ACA’s 10 essential health benefits (EHBs), which include vital services for women, such as maternity care, even if the ACA is repealed or the EHB requirement dropped.  

Regional coordinators in states with hostile political climates and conservative representatives in Washington had to work especially hard to make progress for women in 2017. Marsha Jones (third from left in photo) of the Afiya Center (the RWV coordinator in Dallas) celebrated passage of HB 11: The Texas Moms Matter Act, a piece of legislation to address the maternal mortality crisis in Texas. It will create a Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force within the Department of State Health Services to review cases of pregnancy-related deaths and trends in severe maternal morbidity, which has disproportionately affected Black women.Kwajelyn Jackson, Community Education & Advocacy Manager at Feminist Women’s Health Center (GA), shown at left, highlighted and lifted up the work being done on Black maternal health disparities by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, as well as the importance of recognizing the racial, gender, environmental and economic factors  that influence maternal health outcomes.

SisterReach, the RWV regional coordinator in Memphis, TN, was active in the fight to save the ACA and Medicaid, co-leading the Save My Care Bus Tour’s Memphis stop, and hosting a “Black Folks on the Hill” day at the Tennessee state capitol in Nashville.   SisterReach provided training, exposure to legislative committee and caucus meetings, and helped their participants meet legislators and staff in six offices. The photo shows SisterReach CEO & Founder Cherisse Scott, staff and volunteers posing with State Representative G.A. Hardaway Sr. during Black Folks on the Hill Day.

Women With A Vision, an RWV coordinator in Louisiana, held RJ roundtables in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette to discuss health issues important to Black women, including the ACA and Medicaid expansion. Then they took those messages to the state capitol, bringing low income Black women and LGBTQ individuals from across the state to Baton Rouge for an advocacy day focused on Black women’s issues. “Our Voice Our Time:  Black Women’s Advocacy Day” was attended by over 50 women, who met with state legislators and their staff to discuss the impact of Medicaid expansion on women in Louisiana.

On November 7, Maine became the first state in the country to pass Medicaid expansion by referendum. Our regional coordinator, Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care (CAHC), played an important role in building the massive public support for Medicaid expansion throughout the fall. While not every state allows referenda, RWV will use Maine as a model of policymaker education, advocacy and use of personal stories for achieving these gains in states that have not yet expanded Medicaid.

Lesson 5: Tell the truth. Loudly!  After a tumultuous first nine months of 2017, during which we helped stave off repeal of the ACA and drastic cuts to Medicaid, Raising Women’s Voices and our regional coordinators faced a new challenge as Open Enrollment Period 5 approached.  We realized that many of the women, LGBTQ people and families we serve were confused about whether they would still be able to sign up for health insurance for 2018, and whether there would be any affordable health plans available in their regions of the country.  We knew we had to get the truth out, and do it in a big way! That’s why we launched our truth-telling social media campaign.

RWV developed 111 original OE5 badges to be used on social media to let women know the ACA marketplaces were open – but for only six weeks this year -- that health plans were available and that many people would qualify for free or low-cost health insurance.  During the Open Enrollment Women’s Week of Action, RWV hosted a Twitter chat focused on women’s health, using the hashtag #GetWomenCovered, that had about two million impressions.

Key to the success of our campaign was our active engagement of six of our regional coordinators from southern and southwestern states that were targeted for intensive outreach because of higher-than-average rates of un-insurance: the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta, the Afiya Center in Dallas, the Lesbian Health initiative/Montrose Center in HoustonWomen with a Vision in New Orleans, Trans Queer Pueblo in Phoenix and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in New Mexico. These regional coordinators helped us design materials that effectively targeted African-American, Latinx, immigrant, LGBTQ and low-income women and their families.

 “The fliers and badges were very inclusive and intersectional - in terms of including larger bodied women, diverse populations, interracial couples, queer couples of all ages and different religious expressions,” explained Naushaba Patel,pictured at right, who is Women’s Health Education and Outreach Specialist for theLesbian Health Initiative/Montrose Center in Houston. “Being fully inclusive of all people requires work and trust in others' stories, and I saw that reflected in the RWV staff and I'm grateful for that.”

“I feel great about our results,” said Kwajelyn Jackson from the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta said. “We really pushed hard in the last two weeks to make a strong showing,” she said, noting that enrollments in Georgia surged in the final two weeks of Open Enrollment, nearly doubling the previous four weeks.  “I’d like to think that our efforts helped make that happen.”

Nationwide, nearly nine million people signed up for 2018 health insurance coverage through the healthcare.gov marketplace, almost as many as last year, but with an open enrollment period that was only half as long, and despite the Trump administration’s cuts to marketplace advertising and funding of navigator agencies. We count that as an especially sweet victory from 2017!

Raising Women’s Voices wishes you and your family a very Happy New Year! Stay tuned to learn about some new directions we will be taking in 2018.

Don’t forget to make a year-end charitable donation to support our work through the Network for Good page of Community Catalyst, a fiscal sponsor. Many thanks for your support!

 

Wednesday
Dec202017

Help us protect the true “heart” of the ACA!

Tax bill sets up 2018 attacks on our health care
 
This week, House and Senate Republicans passed their deficit-busting tax giveaway to corporations and the ultra-rich without a single Democratic vote, clearing it for Donald Trump’s signature. After failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act outright earlier this year, GOP leaders gloated that “doing away with the individual mandate [in the tax bill] makes the ACA unworkable” and “takes the heart out of Obamacare.”
 
It’s true that repealing the individual mandate will do real damage. According to the Congressional Budget Office, premiums will rise an average of 10% (wiping out any short-term tax cut that low- and middle-income families might see under the bill before their tax rates jump up again in a few years) and 13 million people will lose their health insurance as a result of the Republican tax bill. Combined with regulatory changes proposed by the Trump administration to make “junk” plans more attractive to healthy people and the GOP’s ongoing efforts to sabotage consumer protections, the coming year could be turbulent, expensive and scary for millions of people in need of affordable care.
 
But while it’s easy to feel despair, Republicans have not taken the “heart” out of the ACA. Not yet!

It will be up to us next year to fight against attacks on the true heart of the ACA: the Medicaid expansion, subsidies to help low- and moderate-income families pay their premiums and consumer protections for women and people with pre-existing conditions. That’s because GOP leadership has made clear that, having blown a giant hole in the deficit with tax cuts, they intend to use that hole as an excuse to dismantle core safety net programs including the ACA, Medicaid, food stamps and more.
 
Help Raising Women’s Voices protect the true heart of the ACA in 2018 by making a tax-deductible charitable donation before year’s end! You can donate through theNetwork for Good page of Community Catalyst, one of our coordinating organizations. Earmark your gift for RWV.

 
Our 2017 work isn’t over yet!
 
Meanwhile, our fight for affordable health care isn’t even over for the week. Having now given themselves and their donors an expensive Christmas bonanza with the national credit card, Republicans are hoping to leave town for the holidays without reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired in September. CHIP funds health insurance for nine million kids, including two million kids with serious chronic conditions, but without federal support, states are spending down reserves and moving to cut off new enrollments as a first step to shutting down their CHIP programs altogether.
 
Today, the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families released new analysiswhich found that if Congress does not act soon to fund CHIP, an estimated 1.9 million children in separate CHIP programs could lose coverage in January. An additional 1 million children would also be at risk of losing coverage by the end of February.
 
According to congressional Republicans, “The reason CHIP’s having trouble is we don’t have any money anymore.” Having just voted to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit in order to slash taxes on the rich, Republicans are refusing to fund the $14 billion CHIP program unless they win deep health cuts elsewhere. They hope to push off dealing with CHIP until after the New Year, even though states like Alabama have already announced that they will be forced to freeze enrollment on January 1.
 
Also left without continuing funding are community health centers, which provide vital primary care to many low-income families, the Maternal Infant Childhood Home Visiting Program, and the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments program, which supports safety-net hospitals that serve large numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients. Word today is that Congress will pass yet another short-term extender of government funding until early in 2018.
 
There’s still time to push Congress to take more decisive action this week! The number for the Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121. You know what to do!

 

Tuesday
Dec122017

Tick tock! Tick tock!

Friday is the last chance to get covered!

 
This Friday, December 15, is the last day to sign up for Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance in most of the country. While millions of people have already signed up for health insurance at Healthcare.gov, there is still a lot of work to do to make sure everyone who needs insurance knows about the deadline.
 
Weekly enrollment totals have outpaced last year’s sign-up rate, but this year’s Open Enrollment Period is much shorter, only six weeks. So we’re going to have to work extra hard to achieve total enrollments for 2018 coverage that are anywhere near the 10 million 2017 sign-ups.
 
Former President Barack Obama weighed in on this year’s enrollment period on Monday, during a call with the Get Covered campaign: “The record numbers of people who’ve signed up so far this year prove how important health insurance is to so many people. It gives peace of mind to young families.  It gives freedom for young people who want to change jobs, or entrepreneurs who want to start a business.” We especially applauded this line:  “It gives justice for women who can’t be charged any more just because they’re women.”
 
During last week’s LGBTQ Week of Action, one of our favorite actresses, Sara Ramirez(now starring in Madame Secretary on CBS with an awesome new haircut) helped get the word out by tweeting out an open enrollment message. Thanks to our friends at Out2Enroll, her tweet included one of the social media badges we’ve created to reach the LGBTQ community. How cool is that!
 

Make sure your friends and family are covered!  You can help. Reach out to people in your network and make sure they have health insurance. We all need reminderssometimes.  Email, text or call your friends and family to remind them Friday is the last day to sign up. Let them know financial assistance is available and that 8 in 10 people can find plans for under $75 a month. If they have questions or need help enrolling, direct them to Young Invincibles’ Connector Tool so they can find an enrollment assister near them.  

Spread the word to your larger social networks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever else you use! Share our social media badges that emphasize the quickly approaching deadline
Looking for a badge with holiday cheer? You can find gift-giving themed badges, like this one, here!
 
Don’t forget to prompt the young adults in your life!

This week is Young Adults Week of Action. While the uninsured rate for millennials is improving, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millennials are still less likely to be covered than other age groups. Young Invincibles has been leading the charge, encouraging young adults around the country to enroll in health insurance using the hashtag#GetCoveredMillennials. Encourage the young adults you know not to wait any longer.  
 
Thank you to everyone who has helped get people signed up this year. Let’s keep up the energy and give it our all in the final days of Open Enrollment!
 
We’re running out of time on CHIP, too!
 
Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel brought his young son Billy, who recently had a second successful heart surgery, on his show Monday to urge Congress to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP funds health insurance for nine million kids, including two million kids with serious chronic conditions. Kimmel stated, “Overwhelmingly, Democrats and Republicans supported it (CHIP) until now.” Federal funding for CHIP expired September 30 and if Congress does not reauthorize CHIP, children will lose their health coverage. He urged viewers to contact their members of Congress and demand they reauthorize CHIP.
 
Kimmel also reminded people Friday is the last day to enroll in health insurance and that “millions of people qualify for reduced rate or totally free plans.” Watch the full clip here.
 
Your year-end donation will help us strengthen our work in 2018!
 
Like what you’ve seen us do this year? Want us to keep speaking up for the health care needs of women, LGBTQ people and our families in 2018? Your year-end donation will help us strengthen our work to protect everyone’s health care!
 
You can make a tax-deductible charitable donation to support Raising Women’s Voices by going to the Network for Good page of Community Catalyst, fiscal sponsor of MergerWatch, one of our coordinating team organizations. Designate your gift for Raising Women’s Voices.

 

Thursday
Dec072017

Taxes and birth control and CHIP… Oh, my!

The year-end crush in Washington
 

Who has time to enjoy the holidays when the future of our health care is on the line in Washington? The federal government is due to run out of money on Saturday, and states are desperately seeking renewed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). But Republicans in Congress have been busy with other things, including trying to enact a giant corporate tax cut that will create a $1.4 trillion deficit, and thus pave the way for big deficit-reduction cuts to Medicare and Medicaid next year. Oh, and did we mention that the tax bill would undermine the Affordable Care Act, repealing its individual mandate and causing 13 million Americans to lose their health insurance?  More on all of those developments in a minute!
 
But first, this week we submitted comments expressing our strong opposition to the birth control rules issued by the Trump administration in early October. As we wrote about previously, the new rules (which went into effect immediately, even before public comments were sought) allow almost any employer to strip birth control coverage from their employees if the employer has either moral or religious objections to contraception. Under the new rules, universities can also deny birth control coverage in student health plans for religious or moral reasons, and insurance companies can do the same as long as the employer they're insuring agrees. 
 
In our comments we noted that the new rules harm women and their health and well-being, violate multiple federal laws and the Constitution, ignore Congress's explicit intent, and are based on false and distorted medical claims. We stated that there is nothing the administration could do to make the rules better and concluded that they should be struck in their entirety.
 

Reading the not-so-fine print of the tax bill
 

Senate Republicans successfully passed their bill to cut taxes on the wealthy and corporations at 2 am Saturday, voting 51-49 to pass a literally hand-written bill that none of them had read. They even voted down on strict party lines (52-48) a Democratic motion to delay voting for three days to give senators a chance to read through the new bill first. Every false complaint Republicans made about passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) seems to have been part of a playbook for how they would operate once in power.
 
Careful, deliberative lawmaking with hearings, public input and outside analysis isn’t window dressing. It’s critical for crafting laws that work as intended. In the days since the vote, experts poring over the bill have uncovered countless bugs, loopholes, and unworkable provisions in the Senate bill.
 
In the words of Greg Jenner, a former top tax official in George W. Bush’s Treasury Departmentquoted by Politico this week, “The more you read, the more you go, ‘Holy crap, what’s this? We will be dealing with unintended consequences for months to come because the bill is moving too fast.” Most concerning of all for Republicans, the Senate bill as passed currently eliminates all corporate tax deductions–the opposite of their intent.
 
While Republicans’ rush to pass a shoddy bill creates problems for them, it opens up both opportunities and challenges for health care advocates. Key Republican senators traded their votes in favor of the bill for assurances from GOP leadership that their other priorities would become law. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), for example, said she was voting for the tax bill, despite its repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate, because she was promised that two of her health care priorities would get a vote before the tax bill became law. Those are the Alexander-Murray package to fund cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments and open enrollment outreach and assistance, and $10 billion in re-insurance funding modeled on her bill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). While these bills would not make up for the loss of the individual mandate, we support their enactment to address other components of GOP sabotage.
 

If the Senate had passed a carefully drafted and vetted bill, individuals senators would have lost all of their leverage to demand fulfillment of these promises: the House could have simply passed the Senate bill as-is, clearing it for the president to sign without any additional input from senators. But passing a bill that accidentally angers the business community makes it significantly less likely that the House can simply push through the Senate bill if the conference process sputters out. That, ironically, gives senators another bite at the apple.
 
That is where we find both challenges and opportunities. To fix their bill, Republicans may need to come up with $300 billion or more in additional revenue to stay within the Senate’s rules for passing the bill with only 51 votes. The House bill included a host of noxious tax hikes on low- and middle-income households that weren’t included in the Senate bill, among them repealing the deduction for high-cost medical expenses. Eliminating this deduction would particularly hurt senior women.
 
According to the AARP, the majority of tax-filers who claim the medical expense deduction are 50 or older and make $75,000 or less. The deduction is often used to help pay the costs of long-term care, which isn’t covered by most health insurance plans and which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, research has found that the kinds of “extraordinary medical payments” likely to trigger the deduction account for more of women’s monthly take-home income than men’s, and leave “women with significantly more revolving credit card debt than men.” If the Senate were to fix its bill by taking up the House’s tax hikes, low- and middle-income women would pay the price.
 
But on the positive side, Senator Collins’ second bite at the apple means she could withhold her support for the tax bill until versions of Alexander-Murry and Collins-Nelson are enacted without additional conservative hostage-taking. Immediately after Senate passage, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House conservatives made clear that they wouldn’t honor any of the commitments that Collins had receive around health care funding. But with her vote once again critical to passing the tax bill, grassroots activists should pressure Senator Collins to use her newly-restored leverage to insist on the best possible package.
 
Finally, it’s worth noting that while the tax bill is still a cornucopia of conservative social engineering—for example, taxing the state and local taxes that Americans pay to support their public schools, while giving wealthy parents who send their children to private schools a big tax break—key provisions related to abortion and church political activity were rejected by the Senate parliamentarian as not qualifying under the rules of reconciliation. Short of Republicans tossing out the filibuster altogether, those provisions can’t make a reappearance in any final package.
 
The tax debate is playing out against the backdrop of major year-end fights around federal spending. Stopgap funding to keep the government open expires on Saturday. House Republicans are pushing a two-week bill to fund the government through December 22 to give the two parties and chambers time to finish negotiating a larger package. After two-year deals in 2013 and 2015, sequestration is once again set to take a big bite out of health care and social welfare programs. Thus, a year-end package could include:
  • Several additional weeks of government funding,
  • Another two-year deal to partially repeal sequestration for both defense and non-defense spending,
  • Alexander-Murray and Collins-Nelson funding for ACA individual health insurance markets,
  • A 5-year reauthorization of CHIP,
  • Funding for community health centers,
  • A waiver of the statutory PAYGO provisions that will automatically cut $25 billion from Medicare next year alone due to the deficits caused by the tax bill, and
  • Possibly (though less likely) Dream Act provisions granting legal status to DACA immigrants whose lives were thrown into limbo when Donald Trump announced that he was ending the program in March.
In each of these fights, advocates must push to protect health care and the social safety net from long-term cuts for the sake of short-term gains.
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