July 31, 2017

Lawmaker Education Week and Fall CME Activity

This October’s Continuing Medical Education activity will focus on public health law and policy. Among other things, the fall conference will prepare health officers to build relationships with elected leaders and become stronger public health advocates for their communities. HOAC staff will be organizing a Lawmaker Education Week for health officers to engage and share information with their community’s elected representatives. Planning will take place throughout the fall, and the week itself will begin Monday, October 23.

US Climate and Health Alliance Launches State Policy Initiative

The US Climate and Health Alliance has launched the State Policy Initiative, which provides many tools to help public health leaders become more influential advocates for state and local climate policy. The site includes reference materials and other information that may be helpful in discussing the health aspects of climate change with policymakers. 

Senate Republicans Fail to Repeal Affordable Care Act

After failing to pass “repeal and replace” and “repeal only,” the US Senate rejected a scaled-down plan to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the early hours of Friday Morning. The Health Care Freedom Act, also called a “skinny repeal,” would have repealed the ACA’s individual and employer mandates, among other provisions, and was estimated by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to increase the number of people who are uninsured by 15 million. With Senate Democrats being joined by three Republican senators in voting against the skinny repeal, Republican efforts to dismantle one of President Obama’s crown achievements appear to be derailed. For the foreseeable future, ACA is here to stay, as it is unclear how House and Senate Republicans can move forward, though the president has declared his intent to “let Obamacare fail.”

Legislature Adjourned

State lawmakers are adjourned for the summer and will reconvene the legislative session on August 21.

July 17, 2017

U.S. Senate Postpones Action on Healthcare

Senate Republicans released their revised version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BRCA), their Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement, on Thursday. The draft was met with continued concern or opposition from nine Republican senators, most serving states that expanded Medicaid under ACA and saw a reduction in the uninsured population, who worry about the impact cuts to Medicaid, among other provisions, will have on vulnerable constituents.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) previously estimated that the $772 billion in cuts would result in 22 million fewer people would having Medicaid coverage. Expecting a new CBO analysis on the revised bill to be released today, Republican leadership was looking to move BRCA forward as early as tomorrow. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that the Senate will postpone action on their healthcare reform bill, giving time for Senator John McCain to recover from a medical procedure. The delay also gives more time for opposition to organize.

Currently, two Republican senators – Susan Collins and Rand Paul – are expected to join their 48 Democratic colleagues in voting against the bill. Proponents of BRCA will need the 50 remaining Senate Republicans in support. A 50-50 count in the Senate would allow Vice President Mike Pence to cast the deciding vote.

California Legislative Deadlines

State lawmakers on Friday had to meet a legislative deadline requiring most bills to be acted on by a policy committee. The two HOAC supported bills listed below were not heard by Friday’s deadline. They are inactive for the year and can move forward again in 2018.

  • AB 62 (Wood), a bill to prohibit the use of tobacco products in public housing units. 
  • SB 210 (Leyva), which would require schools to take steps to ensure pupils have access to safe drinking water that is free of contamination from lead and other sources. 

The State Senate and Assembly will adjourn for Summer Recess on Friday, reconvening on August 21.