New version of health care bill will help Alaska, Maine — home of two holdout senators

 

WASHINGTON — The Republican senators at the forefront of the latest effort to undo the Affordable Care Act plan to release a revised version of their bill Monday sending more health care dollars to the states of key holdouts, as hardening resistance from several GOP senators left their proposal on the verge of collapse.

According to a summary obtained by The Washington Post, Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, will propose giving Alaska and Maine get more funding than initially offered. Those states are represented by Republican senators Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Susan CollinsMaine, who have expressed concerns about the bill but have yet to say how they would vote.

The Cassidy-Graham legislation would overhaul the ACA by lumping together the current law’s spending on insurance subsidies and expanded Medicaid and redistributing it to states in the form of block grants. Alaska would get 3 percent more funding between 2020 and 2026 than under current law, and Maine would get 43 percent more funding during that time period, according to a summary obtained by The Post.

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Why we all love Senator John McCain

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On Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers are scrambling to save their latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, after it looks like they will again fail to secure enough votes to pass the legislation. On Friday, Republican Arizona Senator John McCain announced he will not support the Graham-Cassidy bill. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul also opposes the legislation, and Maine Senator Susan Collins, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Texas Senator Ted Cruz have all indicated they may vote against the bill. Top Republicans have revised the legislation to add additional benefits for Alaska and Maine in efforts to woo Senators Murkowski’s and Collins’s votes.

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Health groups condemn new Republican Obamacare repeal plan

Chuck Schumer with protesters in WashingtonImage copyrightEUROPEAN PHOTOPRESS AGENCY
Image captionDemocrats have rallied against the bill

Sixteen patient and provider groups have opposed the latest healthcare plan put forward by Republican senators as a replacement for Obamacare.

In a joint statement, they said the proposal would endanger access to care for millions of Americans.

For years, Republicans have pushed to abolish President Barack Obama’s law, which expanded health insurance but failed to curb rising medical costs.

The bill will need 50 votes to pass the Senate before going to the House.

It would then go to the White House for the president’s signature.

Despite their longstanding opposition to Obamacare, Republicans have so far been unable to agree on a replacement.

Since taking control of the White House, several attempts to rally around a new plan have collapsed.

Now they have only until the end of the month to pass this bill.

157 Mainers die every year that we don’t accept federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage

Maine People's Alliance
Robin,I had an incredibly fun and insightful interview with Mainers for Health Care (Yes on 2) campaign manager Jennie Pirkl on the Beacon podcast this week, and something she said got me thinking.

She reminded me that the best evidence we have indicates that about 157 Mainers die every year we fail to accept federal funding to expand health coverage through Medicaid. Over the last few years, we’ve seen it happen. We know some of their names. We’ve read their obituaries.

157 people a year over the next couple decades is more than 3,000 lives that could be saved and only 220,000 people voted in the last odd-year referendum election.

So, if Question 2 passes with a bare majority, it will save about one life for every 35 votes.

35 votes! That’s one radio ad! That’s a couple shifts of knocking on doors!

This election matters and it has never been easier to make a difference. You could literally save someone’s life. Visit www.mainersforhealthcare.org to give some money or volunteer right now.

Also on Beacon recently:

Thanks as always for your feedback and for sharing these pieces on social media.

Keep up the fight!

-Mike

Mike Tipping
MPA Communications Director
mike@mainepeoplesalliance.org

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LePage cuts last direct ties with tribes on public health

Gov. Paul LePage’s administration has cut off state funding that the four federally recognized Native American tribes in Maine were using to plan an expansion of addiction treatment and mental health care in their communities.

The move comes six years after Maine started including the tribes in state-funded efforts to combat major health problems. Tribal leaders now worry that recent initiatives to develop an addiction treatment center serving tribal members, improve life for seniors, and tackle other health challenges in the tribal communities in eastern and northern Maine could stall.

The public health work “was beginning to have some positive results, and, now, all of a sudden, it’s gone,” said Theodore Bear Mitchell I, a former Penobscot Indian Nation representative in the Maine Legislature.

Compared with Maine’s population, tribal members face higher rates of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure; they have markedly higher smoking and heavy drinking rates; and they have lower life expectancy.

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Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to Co-Sponsor “Medicare for All” Bill

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In healthcare news, Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said Thursday she will co-sponsor a bill by Senator Bernie Sanders that would expand Medicare to include every American. The measure, which Sanders is expected to introduce later this month, would provide universal healthcare by lowering the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to zero. Other Democratic senators, including California’s Kamala Harris and Montana’s Jon Tester, have said they might support the bill.

Abortion protesters return to Portland, Maine after court rules against them

PORTLAND, Maine — The protesters outside Portland’s Planned Parenthood clinic weren’t screaming Friday morning, but not because of a court order.

It was the first of the regularly scheduled anti-abortion demonstrations since a federal judge ruled that police may again enforce Maine’s noise ordinance against protesters outside the women’s health center. And the activists kept their admonitions to a low shout despite the decision not yet being in effect.

On Tuesday, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling, finding that police can enforce the noise section of the Maine Civil Rights Act against the protesters because, as written, the law is message neutral.

The ruling is the latest step in a legal drama that started in 2015 and could now be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the issue at hand being whether or not the First Amendment gives protesters the right to scream epithets such as “Murderer!” and “Whore!” at patients entering the clinic, of course, in the name of Jesus.

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