n4a Advocacy Alert

Keep Up The Pressure! 

Senate Delays Health Care Vote but Action Still Needed to #SaveMedicaid

June 27, 2017

In breaking news from Washington this afternoon, Senate Leadership has delayed an expected vote on the Senate’s health care reform proposal, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), until after the July 4th recess.  

However, urgent advocacy action is still needed to demand that lawmakers reject any health care reform effort that would increase costs, decrease coverage and weaken Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS) for older adults. As written, both the House and Senate bills to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and restructure the Medicaid program would undermine health care coverage and LTSS support for older adults.  

As a resource for n4a members and Aging Network advocates and stakeholders, n4a has released a video update about what the Senate’s bill could mean for older adults. We encourage you to watch and listen to this presentation, and feel free to share it with your local advocacy stakeholders.  

Watch the Video

Advocacy Still Needed!

Now that the Senate has postponed a vote on the BRCA, advocates MUST weigh in over the July 4 recess against the devastating cuts to Medicaid in the Senate and House bills.

We have updated the n4a #SaveMedicaid (www.n4a.org/savemedicaid) campaign page, and urge you to use these advocacy tools and resources to engage your grassroots and local partners while lawmakers are at home next week!

Watch today’s video, check out the n4a #SaveMedicaid campaign page and use n4a’s June 20 Advocacy Alert for ideas on how you can weigh in with your Members of Congress against these harmful health care proposals! Again, advocacy NOW is critical. We have only a couple of weeks to prevent devastating cuts to health and long-term care services for older adults.

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If you have questions or concerns about this Advocacy Alert or n4a’s policy positions, please contact Autumn Campbell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Amy Gotwals at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Copyright © 2017, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), All rights reserved. National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) 1730 Rhode Island Ave., NW Suite 1200 Washington, DC 20036

 

 

2017 AAA Survey Report and Toolkit Now Available!

A special announcement from n4a. 

 

2017 AAA Survey Report and Toolkit Now Available!

Across the country, Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) are developing and coordinating critical services and supports that help older adults age at home and in the community. But what are the latest trends in the Aging Network and how does your AAA stack up against its peers?

Learn all this and more in n4a's brand-new National Survey of Area Agencies on Aging 2017 Report and Toolkit!

The National Survey is conducted every two to three years and tracks important new trends in AAA programs, services and funding. How are AAAs engaging in new opportunities, such as livable and dementia-friendly community efforts? What funding sources are AAAs exploring to innovate and adapt to shifting policy priorities?

AAAs and local, state and federal partners and stakeholders can use data from the report in a variety of ways! Survey data is essential for analyzing policy issues, benchmarking services, supporting requests for funding, preparing local issue briefs, speaking with funders or legislators and more.  

And this year, as an additional value, n4a is providing AAAs with a comprehensive toolkit developed to help you tell your agency's story in relation to national trends. The toolkit includes:

  • “Fast Facts” snapshot of survey data
  • PowerPoint slidedeck on key findings to strengthen your local presentations
  • Customizable brochure based on the popular "Local Leaders" booklet
  • 25 State Reports for states that met the required response rate

Visit the n4a website to view the full report and toolkit. All AAA directors will receive a hard copy of the report later this month.

Interested in learning more? Join us for a July 18 webinar on the report, toolkit, and how your agency can use the data to drive local action.

 

Copyright © 2017, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), All rights reserved. National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) 1730 Rhode Island Ave., NW Suite 1200 Washington, DC 20036

 

 

House overrides Rauner; 2-year state budget impasse ends

By John O’Connor and Sophia Tareen, The Associated Press

Illinois House approves state budget, ends historic impasse

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House voted Thursday to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's vetoes of a budget package, giving the state its first spending blueprint in more than two years and ending the nation's longest fiscal stalemate since at least the Great Depression.

The budget is retroactive to July 1 — the start of the fiscal year. That's the date a permanent 32 percent tax increase takes effect. Individuals will pay 4.95 percent instead of 3.75 percent. The corporate rate jumps to 7 percent from 5.25 percent.

Rauner vetoed the measures because he sees no indication that the Democratic-controlled Legislature will send him the "structural" changes he's demanded. Those include a statewide property tax freeze, cost-cutting restrictions on compensation for injured workers, changes to pension benefits for state employees, and reforms making it easier for voters to merge or eliminate local governing bodies.

The standoff has had potentially disastrous side effects.

Credit-rating houses threatened to downgrade the state's creditworthiness to "junk," signaling to investors that buying Illinois debt is a highly speculative venture. The bond houses predicted a downgrade without a fix by the July 1 start of the fiscal year — the third consecutive fiscal year Illinois has opened without an approved budget plan. But Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings gave Illinois some breathing room on Monday, issuing notices marking the House tax increase approval a day earlier and indicating they wouldn't take immediate downgrade action.

Government has limped along for two years on the strength of court-ordered spending, but the state comptroller says the treasury will be $185 million short of what's needed to cover basic services by August.

With a $6.2 billion annual deficit and $14.7 billion in overdue bills, the United Way predicts the demise of 36 percent of all human services agencies in Illinois by year's end. Billions of dollars in road construction work is shutting down. Public universities have been cut to the bone and face a loss of academic accreditation.

The budget bills are SB6 and SB9.

Legislative Update June 22, 2017

n4a legislative update

Senate Unveils Health Care Reform Bill
Cuts to Medicaid Deeper than House Bill  
June 22, 2017

After weeks of crafting legislation behind closed doors, Senate Republican leaders today unveiled legislative text that lays out their proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and significantly reform the federal-state Medicaid program. Known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, the Senate proposal reflects many of the same policies that garnered narrow House approval last month, but makes significantly deeper cuts to the federal Medicaid program.  

Lawmakers, advocates and other health care stakeholders will now have only one week to analyze and consider the proposal before it comes to the chamber floor for an anticipated vote next week. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to release its analysis of the measure very soon, and because the policy process used to move this health care reform proposal through Congress requires only a simple majority for passage, Senators will only need to secure 50 Republican votes to approve the bill (with Vice President Mike Pence as the tie-breaking vote).  

If the Senate’s proposal passes the Senate, it will need to go back to the House for consideration before being signed into law. While we have heard some preliminary concern from some Republicans in the House, as of right now, we expect that the House would ultimately approve the measure.  

The time to act is now, and advocacy on this important issue cannot wait. Earlier this week, n4a released our #SaveMedicaid campaign with tools and resources that Aging Network leaders and stakeholders can use to support your state advocacy efforts. Advocacy is particularly important if you live in the key states of ME, OH, WV, CO, AK and AZ.  

First Glance at the Senate Health Care Reform Bill  

While n4a and other health care and aging advocates will need time to comb through the proposal, overall, the Senate bill largely tracks the House approach to health care reform. Some key differences—especially as they relate to restructuring Medicaid, could have significant implications for older adults. Until we are able to evaluate the bill more comprehensively, here are a few initial details we can share about the Senate’s approach to ACA repeal and replace and Medicaid reform.  

The Senate plan to repeal and replace the ACA would:

  • Roll back the ACA’s individual mandate for insurance coverage.
  • Follow the House plan to change the age-rating for premiums, which means that states could allow insurance companies to charge older consumers up to five times more for insurance coverage.
  • Maintain the ACA’s approach to provide income-based subsidies to buy individual insurance on the marketplace, but rolls back those subsidies and eliminates them for people making over 350 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL). Under ACA, subsidies are available for people making up to 400 percent of FPL.
  • Maintain the House approach to repealing the ACA’s taxes on higher-income earners and insurance companies—revenues which currently pay for Medicaid expansion and extending the solvency of Medicare.
  • Phase out Medicaid expansion more gradually than the House bill, but include deeper cuts to Medicaid in the long-run.
  • Eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund.
  • Maintain some protections for patients with pre-existing conditions by not allowing states to roll back the requirement that insurance plans cover Essential Health Benefits. However, the bill would give states the option to apply for a waiver to determine what is considered an Essential Health Benefit, and therefore could still jeopardize coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Provides initial funding certainty, through 2019, that the federal government will pay cost-sharing payments to insurance companies that limit out-of-pocket costs for low-income consumers. Uncertainty about whether the Trump Administration would continue to pay these subsidies to insurance companies has caused significant turmoil in the insurance market.

The Senate’s plan to reform the federal Medicaid program would:

  • Allow states to choose between a per-capita cap or block grant structure to receive federal Medicaid funding.
  • Cut Medicaid more deeply than the House-passed bill. Because the Senate bill would index the federally guaranteed rate of growth for Medicaid funding to a more constrained measure than the House bill, federal funding to states would grow even more slowly over time. This would ultimately shift more costs to states than the House bill, which could jeopardize critical long-term care services for older adults.

Next Steps for Health Care Reform

The CBO will have to weigh in about cost and coverage implications for the Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act. An estimate could take a day or two, but ultimately, it will be difficult for advocates to evaluate exactly what this proposal will mean for older adults on the Marketplace and Medicaid. Last month, the CBO estimated that the House bill would cause 23 million people, including 14 million (17 percent of) Medicaid beneficiaries, to lose health insurance coverage over the next 10 years and significantly increase costs and reduce coverage options for poorer, sicker and older Americans.

While the CBO estimated that the current version of AHCA would cut $834 billion—or nearly 25 percent—from Medicaid over ten years, we anticipate that the Senate plan may mean even deeper cuts to Medicaid.

n4a remains opposed to the approaches taken by both the Senate and the House to repeal and replace the ACA and restructure Medicaid, which is a critical health and long-term care safety net for low-income older adults and caregivers. We continue to encourage Congress to take the time to address the key issues raised in our January 2017 Policy Brief.

See our new grassroots advocacy tools to help #SaveMedicaid!

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This Legislative Update is an n4a membership benefit. For more information about these and other federal aging policy issues, please contact n4a’s policy team: Amy Gotwals (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Autumn Campbell (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), 202.872.0888.

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