July 24, 2017

U.S. Senate May Vote on Healthcare as Early as Tomorrow

After months of debating and planning, the Senate majority leader is expected to take up the House-approved bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as early as tomorrow. Though the House bill is not likely to pass the Senate, if Senator Mitch McConnell can reach the 50 votes needed to begin debate on the House bill, he can move to repeal ACA without a replacement – an amendment that would be unlikely to pass, though being suggested by a handful of Republican lawmakers. If the amendment fails, Senator McConnell could move to replace the House-approved bill with the version developed by a group 13 Republican senators – all men – tasked with making the GOP’s plan to repeal ACA more palatable, not just to the public, but to their colleagues. The repeal effort would be considered as a budgetary item, which limits debate, prohibits a filibuster, and will allow its passage with a simple majority vote. As of now, the Senate appears to be short of the votes. With 52 of the Senate’s 100 members being Republicans, Senator McConnell can only afford to lose two votes – one if Senator John McCain, who announced last week that he was diagnosed with brain cancer, is absent.

California Budget & Policy Center Begins Series Examining the Feasibility of Single-Payer Healthcare  

In the first post of a new series, the California Budget & Policy Center provided an excellent analysis of a prospective single-payer healthcare system in California. In light of SB 562 (Lara and Atkins), the single-payer bill that was approved by the Senate and stalled in the Assembly, their analysis also provides a thoughtful overview of the challenges that resulted in the bill’s demise.

STEM Trained Candidates Seeking Public Office in Age of Trump

With the help of a new nonprofit political action committee called 314 Action, many scientists are considering a run for public office. As the Trump administration and Republican-led congress propose numerous cuts to science programs across the country, the “lab coat liberals,” as they’ve been called, are seeking to fight back by running for local, state, and federal offices. Going from scientist to politician, groups of STEM trained candidates are running with a commitment to protect research funding and pledge to aggressively advocate for evidence-based policy in areas where scientific evidence is disputed. Read more about the movement here.

California Legislature Adjourns for Summer Recess

State lawmakers officially adjourned for the summer on Friday. They will reconvene on August 21, when they will begin the final stretch of this legislative-year, which ends on September 15. 

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.