Washington Update: Week of March 13

March 14, 2017
Washington Update

Budget & Appropriations

  • We are likely to see President Trump's "skinny budget" covering fiscal year 2018 this week. The administration is preparing to seek deep cuts to clean energy, the State Department, and other programs.
  • Next week, Trump may request as much as $6.6 billion for a down payment on his promise to build a wall on the United States-Mexico border to crack down on illegal immigration.
  • The supplemental spending request to fiscal year 2017 budget, which also will include money for military needs, would jump-start congressional debate over the cost of building the proposed wall and over which undocumented immigrants to target for deportation.

Immigration

  • Last Thursday, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) introduced the Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, legislation that would provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
  • The bill provides immigrants that have been vetted by the Department of Homeland Security with three pathways toward legalization: higher education, service in the armed forces, or work authorization. Following a five-year conditional status, these immigrants would be able to reapply for a five-year permanent status.
  • Original co-sponsors of the RAC Act are Rep. Mike Coffman (CO-6), Jeff Denham (CA-19), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Mark Amodei (NV-2), Jennifer Gonzalez Colon (PR), Fred Upton (MI-6), David Reichert (WA-8) and David Valadao (CA-21).

Affordable Care Act

This week the House Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act, known as The American Health Care Act (AHCA), moves to the Budget Committee which plans to hold a markup on Wednesday. The House Rules Committee would then take up the measure, setting up the parameters for floor consideration.

On March 13, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the AHCA would cut funding to Medicaid by $880 billion and thus cause 14 million people to lose their health insurance. By 2026, 24 million Americans could be uninsured.

What is the American Health Care Act?

  • The 123-page bill would retain some of the most popular parts of the Affordable Care Act, including a ban on pre-existing conditions, allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan up to age 26, and ban annual and lifetime limits on health insurance.
  • It would eliminate the mandate that all Americans purchase health care coverage or pay a fine.
  • AHCA would keep the Medicaid expansion but only until 2020. At that point, states would have to stop enrolling people. People who fell off the program — perhaps because their income went up, or they simply forgot to enroll — would not be allowed back on.
  • AHCA changes the rest of Medicaid, too. Right now, the federal government pays a certain percent of every Medicaid enrollees’ bills no matter how high they go. AHCA would change that. It would have the federal government give states a lump sum for each person in Medicaid, meaning states could run out of money for especially high-cost patients.
  • The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that, on average, the subsidies in the AHCA plan are 36 percent lower than those in the current law. This means it would become harder for people who earn about $20,000 or $30,000 a year to afford health care coverage if they don’t get it through their employer.

Act Now!

Call (800-826-3688) and urge your senators and representative to vote NO on the American Health Care Act. Restructuring Medicaid and ending the Medicaid expansion will eliminate affordable health care coverage for millions of low-income Americans and make ending hunger by 2030 much more difficult.

Read Bread for the World's statement on the American Health Care Act.

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