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News Briefing for April 25

HEALTHCARE: ObamaCare penalty could be too low, analysis finds “A new analysis highlights that it is often cheaper for people to pay ObamaCare’s penalty for not having health insurance than to buy coverage, meaning the penalty might be too low to spur middle-income people to get covered.  The analysis from the consulting firm Avalere Health finds that for people making less than 200 percent of the poverty line, or about $23,000, purchasing insurance is usually cheaper because of income-based subsidies under the law. The penalty for not having health insurance in 2015 is $325 or 2 percent of income, whichever is greater. But for healthy ...

News Briefing for Thursday, April 23, 2015

HEALTHCARE: Another Side Effect of Obamacare: Increased Food Stamp Enrollment? “Expanded Medicaid under Obamacare could be responsible for more people signing up for food stamps, the Associated Press reported. That’s because so many state agencies are making it simpler to enroll in multiple government assistance programs at once if they are eligible for Medicaid. In New Mexico, enrollment for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, grew by 5 percent in 14 months. “We attribute the increase in SNAP to Medicaid expansion,” New Mexico Human Services Department Deputy Secretary Sean Pearson told the AP. ...

News Briefing for Tuesday, April 21

HEALTHCARE: Obamacare is benefitting the biggest hospitals and insurers, and that's not a good thing “These days, when liberals defend Obamacare, they often say something along the lines of, Look, Obamacare can't be that bad, even big business likes it! A writer at the liberal Mother Jones defended Obamacare by pointing out that the largest hospital chain in America is fighting to save the law. Wendell Potter, at the Center for Public Integrity, seems to think it's a rebuke to Obamacare's critics that the nation's largest health insurer is making bank off the law: Anyone who still thinks the Affordable Care Act was a "government takeover of ...

News Briefing for Monday, April 20

HEALTHCARE: Group Takes On Insurance Companies Over Obamacare “Justin Danhof, general counsel for the National Center for Public Policy Research, challenged the president of Humana Thursday for his support of Obamacare during a shareholder’s meeting. Danhof took aim at Bruce D. Broussard, president of the insurance giant Humana, over his support of Obamacare, particularly in light of ongoing legal challenges. Broussard defended his position arguing healthcare is a right and therefore must be respected, an answer Danhof disputed. “I think at Humana, we have one fundamental belief and that is that individuals have the right to receive health ...

News Briefing for Thursday, April 9

TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: The Speaker strikes back (Op-ed by Jenny Beth Martin) “House Speaker John Boehner’s latest volley in his petty war against conservatives in the GOP conference – while saying much more about himself than the men he’s targeting – provides a great opportunity for a discussion about Congress’ stewardship of taxpayer dollars. In the aftermath of the failed attempt to displace him in January, Boehner moved into recrimination mode with considerable dispatch.  For his sin of allowing colleagues to place his name in nomination for speaker, Rep. Dan Webster (R-Fla.) was bounced from the Rules Committee, along with his ...

News Briefing for Wednesday, April 8

TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: TEA PARTY PATRIOTS EXCITED BY PAUL PRESIDENTIAL ANNOUNCEMENT “Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin expressed excitement at Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential run Tuesday. “It’s exciting to see another energetic, visionary conservative enter the contest for the 2016 nomination,” Martin said in a statement. “Sen. Paul has been at the forefront of the liberty movement, and he will do a lot to shape the debate as the GOP field expands.” Paul was part of the Tea Party wave when he was first elected to the Senate from Kentucky in 2010. He officially announced his presidential candidacy Tuesday. “Rand Paul ...

News Briefing for Tuesday, April 7

TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: The GOP quandary: How far right without falling over the edge? “Tea party loyalists are still somewhat wary of Walker, though, because of past positions on immigration and government support for ethanol, a big issue in Iowa, site of the nation’s first caucus. In 2006, he said during his gubernatorial campaign that “we as conservatives should oppose” federal ethanol requirements. But at the Iowa Ag Summit this month, he said he was “willing to go forward” with federal standards. Tea Party Patriots president Jenny Beth Martin asked Walker why he switched his position. Walker said his position was consistent, ...

News Briefing for Wednesday, April 1, 2015

HEALTHCARE: CALPERS COULD OWE OBAMACARE $770 MILLION IN “CADILLAC TAX’ “California government entities and their unions are panicking because Obamacare’s punitive 40% “Cadillac Tax” beginning in 2018 will directly hit the low-deductible and broad-provider network type of “platinum” healthcare coverage that public employees have enjoyed under the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS). With the Cadillac Tax estimated at $770 million, public employees face a radical change to “narrow networks” and up to 1,000 percent increase in annual healthcare deductibles. California public employee unions and CalPERS took a ...

Legislative Update for 03/29/15

Listen to the legislative update podcast here: CALENDAR: The House and Senate are both out of session for the next two weeks. LAST WEEK’S HOUSE FLOOR ACTION: As happens every now and then, I need to begin this week’s update with a correction to something I said last week. Last week, when I was discussing House floor action the week before, I said the House had passed the Rules for both H.R. 1029, the EPA Science Advisory Board Act, and H.R. 1030, the Secret Science Reform Act. But I most specifically did NOT say the two bills had passed on the floor. That’s because I couldn’t find any record online of the votes on final passage ...

News Briefing for Friday, March 27

TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: The GOP quandary: How far right without falling over the edge? “…Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is at or near the top of most early polls among Republicans, likes to boast how he stuck to conservative principles to win statewide office three times in a centrist state. “To win the center, you don’t have to go to the center, you have to lead,” he said last week during a Tea Party Patriots telephone town hall. Tea party loyalists are still somewhat wary of Walker, though, because of past positions on immigration and government support for ethanol, a big issue in Iowa, site of the nation’s first caucus. In 2006, he ...