Norquist Aims to Stop Internet Sales Tax Legislation


English: Grover Norquist at a political confer...

English: Grover Norquist at a political conference in Orlando, Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Christopher Hitchens at a party at th...

English: Christopher Hitchens at a party at the house of Grover Norquist following the CPAC convention in January 2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Official photo cropped of United Stat...

English: Official photo cropped of United States Senator and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 23 Apr 2013 02:07 PM

By David Yonkman, Washington Correspondent  –

Internet sales-tax legislation racing through the Senate is likely to

face roadblocks when it moves to the House, anti-tax activist Grover

Norquist told Newsmax Tuesday.

“The reason we have a House and Senate is when you rush something

through one body, you have a chance to think it through in the other

body,” said Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.“We’re

making the case on the House side of either seriously amending it or

even stopping it.”

The Senate is likely this week to pass the bill, which would greatly

expand the ability of states to collect sales taxes across state lines

on online purchases. Under current law, states can collect sales taxes

from retailers only if they have a physical presence in the state — a

store, warehouse, or office.

The Marketplace Fairness Act would allow states to collect taxes even if

the retailer does not have a physical presence in the state.

That’s just wrong, according to Norquist, who describes the legislation

as a massive expansion of taxing authority over businesses that have no

recourse in the matter.

“You should only be taxing people who can vote for you or against you,” Norquist said.

The Senate voted 74 to 20 on Monday to clear the Internet sales tax bill

for consideration on the floor, but on final passage it will have at

least one high-ranking Republican dissenter.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky cited the difficulty

for businesses to comply with the different tax codes in all the areas

where their customers reside. McConnell says that creates an enormous

advantage to large retailers who can afford such costs over smaller

businesses.

“If states decide they need this revenue, they should keep in mind the

tremendous burden they’ll be placing on the little guys who do so much

to drive this economy,” McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor.

“In my view, the federal government should be looking for ways to help,

not hurt, these folks.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Some Republicans Propose Using Medicaid Expansion Dollars For Private Insurance


US residents with employer-based private healt...

US residents with employer-based private health insurance, with self insurance, with Medicare or Medicaid or military health care and uninsured in Million; U.S. Census bureau: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Health Costs, Insurance, Medicaid, Politics, Health Reform, States

Mar 25, 2013

Some governors who initially opposed the health law’s Medicaid expansion are proposing to use the federal money to allow low-income people to buy private insurance in the new exchanges. News outlets report on those and related developments in Tennessee, California, Missouri, Florida and Kansas.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Republicans’ Firm ‘No’ On Medicaid Expansion Is Shifting Toward ‘Let’s Make A Deal’
A new “no, but …” approach is spreading among GOP states in which officials are still publicly condemning the Democratic president’s Medicaid expansion yet floating alternatives that could provide health coverage to millions of low-income adults while potentially tapping into billions of federal dollars that are to start flowing in 2014 (3/24).

Stateline: Expanding Medicaid With Private Insurance
The governors of Ohio and Arkansas, seeking a way around conservative state legislators who refuse to expand Medicaid, want to insure some of their poorest residents using a market-based approach. The federal government appears likely to allow Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio and Democratic Governor Mike Beebe of Arkansas to use federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for low-income people from the new health-care “exchanges” that will be created under the Affordable Care Act. They plan to use the strategy to cover newly eligible adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (Vestal, 3/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Medicaid-Expansion Puzzle
Deciding whether to expand Tennessee’s Medicaid program as part of the federal health-care law should be easy for Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and the GOP leaders of the state legislature. All of them oppose the health law. They watched the state significantly extend eligibility in the 1990s for its Medicaid program, TennCare, only to see costs eat into the state budget and prompt lawmakers a decade later to kick several hundred thousand people off the rolls. But the decision is proving anything but simple (Radnofsky, 3/24).

The New York Times: Tennessee Race for Medicaid: Dial Fast and Try, Try Again
Two nights a year, Tennessee holds a health care lottery of sorts, giving the medically desperate a chance to get help. State residents who have high medical bills but would not normally qualify for Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor, can call a state phone line and request an application. But the window is tight — the line shuts down after 2,500 calls, typically within an hour — and the demand is so high that it is difficult to get through (Goodnough, 3/24).

Los Angeles Times: Outreach Effort Aims To Get Uninsured Enrolled In Healthcare
The goal is to hold ongoing enrollment events throughout the county in the lead up to the healthcare overhaul, which begins Jan. 1. … The county Department of Health Services has partnered with OneLA, an organization of churches, synagogues and nonprofit groups, to conduct the enrollment sessions. Volunteers are identifying people through the church parishes and doing pre-screening so the enrollment can occur on the spot. Some of the people are eligible for Medi-Cal, and others are being enrolled in Healthy Way LA, a temporary coverage program until the Medi-Cal expansion takes place in 2014 (Gorman, 3/25).

St. Louis Beacon: Mental Health Patients, Advocates Make Case For Expanding Medicaid In Missouri
William Shortall is among 50,000 Missourians who are in a bind because they don’t have sufficient insurance to cover treatment for their mental health problems…The Affordable Care Act was supposed to throw a lifeline to people like Shortal by extending Medicaid to uninsured Missourians with incomes up to 138 percent of poverty, which is roughly $26,000 for a family of three (Joiner, 3/22).

Health News Florida: Senate Republicans, Democrats Back ‘Healthy FL’
State Sen. Joe Negron‘s “Healthy Florida” plan, officially launched without dissent Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee, has already attracted support from a broad swath of industries and leaders of both political parties (Gentry, 3/22).

Kansas Health Institute: House Speaker Talks About Medicaid Expansion, Reading Initiative, Autism Mandate
House leaders today expressed support for a Senate budget provision that would bar expansion of the state’s Medicaid program without the Legislature’s OK. House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stillwell Republican, said he sided with language added to the Senate budget bill Thursday that would bar state agencies from spending any money to expand eligibility for the Kansas Medicaid program without the expressed consent of the Legislature (Ranney, 3/22).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

Senate Narrowly Passes Budget Proposal For Fiscal Year 2014


English: President Barack Obama, Vice Presiden...

English: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior staff, react in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, as the House passes the health care reform bill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Health Costs, Medicare, Medicaid, Politics, Health Reform

Mar 25, 2013

The next step will come when President Barack Obama releases his budget, although that is not likely to offer details about changes in Medicare and other entitlement programs that the president might be willing to support.The Wall Street Journal: Congress Set To Alter Focus After Passing Two Budgets
After the Senate passed its budget this weekend, Congress is expected to pivot to issues such as immigration and guns before attempting a broader deal on taxes, spending and the national debt later this year. … Mr. Obama has indicated a willingness to support bigger changes in Medicare and other entitlement programs than the Democratic budget called for, but only as part of broader deficit-reduction deal with Republicans that includes tax increases. The president isn’t likely to detail such entitlement cuts as part of his formal budget request (Hook, 3/24).

The Associated Press: Analysis: Balance Is In The Eye Of The Congressional Beholder When It Comes To Budgets
Well before then, on April 8 in fact, Obama will present a budget of his own. It is long overdue, to the disappointment of Republicans who had hoped to make it an object of ridicule in the just-completed budget debates in the House and Senate. It gives Obama the chance to align himself entirely with his Democratic allies, or possibly to edge away when it comes to government benefit programs that have largely escaped cuts in earlier compromises. Republicans will watch to see what steps, if any, the White House is willing to recommend to slow the growth of Medicare or perhaps Social Security. Given Obama’s recent series of meetings with Republicans, some GOP lawmakers say privately it would be a positive sign for him to include a proposal curtailing the rise in cost of living increases in benefit programs (Espo, 3/25).

News outlets also reported on the scores of amendments the Senate considered as part of its budget debate, including those that sought to de-fund elements of the health law and repeal the medical device tax.

Los Angeles Times: Senate Narrowly Approves Democratic Budget
More than 600 amendments were filed on the bill, from the lofty to the parochial. They included proposals to de-fund new healthcare laws, to restrict potential surveillance by domestic drone aircraft, and to prevent a Western bird called the sage grouse from being listed as an endangered species. Like some members of the Senate, it is known for its strutting displays. … Senators dispatched with several key amendments. They tossed aside the House GOP budget drafted by Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, which calls for deep cuts to the social safety net, including Medicare, and in an effort to achieve balance in 10 years. Five GOP senators defected on their party’s defining document (Mascaro, 3/23).

Politico: An Obamacare Rerun: Senators Target Health Law In ‘Vote-A-Rama’
Proving that the Obamacare wars are far from over, the health reform law was one of the favorite targets of amendments during Friday night’s “vote-a-rama” on the Senate floor. Dozens of amendments were filed to the budget resolution picking apart various elements of health care policy: whether employers should provide contraceptives in their insurance policies, whether a tax should be imposed on medical device-makers, whether Medicare can adjust payments based on the state (Haberkorn, 3/23).

Politico: Democrats Join Push To Dump Obamacare Tax
Thirty-four Senate Democrats joined Republicans on Thursday night in a nonbinding but overwhelming vote to repeal a key tax in President Barack Obama’s health reform law. The Senate voted 79-20 to get rid of the law’s 2.3 percent sales tax on medical device-makers (Haberkorn, 3/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Medical-Device Tax Repeal Faces Uphill Climb In Senate
The push to repeal the 2010 federal health-care law’s tax on medical devices got a boost in the Senate this week, but the search to replace the nearly $30 billion the levy provided to fund other parts of the law will impede efforts to unwind it. Intense lobbying from the medical-device industry helped nudge the Senate to vote 79-20 Thursday night to repeal the 2.3% tax on sales of pacemakers, surgical tools and a swath of other devices. Strikingly, 34 lawmakers who caucus with the Democrats signed onto the repeal, including many who created the tax by voting for the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Peterson and Weaver, 3/22).

The Hill: Senate Rejects Ban On Allowing Former Illegal Immigrants Healthcare Benefits
The Senate rejected an amendment to the budget that would have banned illegal immigrants from qualifying for “ObamaCare” and Medicaid during the period of legal status. Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Session (R-Ala.) introduced the amendment, which failed on a 43-56 vote. His amendment would have prohibited illegal immigrants, who later gain citizenship, from getting healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act or through Medicaid (Cox, 3/23).

This is part of Kaiser Health News’ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

KHN Changes How It Describes Medicaid Eligibility Level Under Health Law


Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Phil Galewitz

December 5th, 2012, 1:29 PM

Since President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, most news organizations including Kaiser Health News have reported that in 2014 the law would expand Medicaid coverage to nearly everyone with a household income below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which this year is nearly $31,000 for a family of four.

But that doesn’t describe the full picture for those newly eligible for Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor.

Under the law, there is a fixed dollar amount that varies by family size that is disregarded each year, which in effect raises the threshold to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or nearly $32,000.

Why didn’t Congress just make the eligibility level 138 percent?

The U.S. Senate passed the health overhaul bill in late 2009 with the 133 percent figure. That figure was already the minimum federal standard for pregnant women and children under 6.

The House, in its initial deliberations, favored an income limit of 150 percent of the poverty level, or nearly $35,000 for a family of four. During the process of melding the House and Senate bills, lawmakers were concerned about Senate rules that prevented them from changing  the eligibility level in legislation that had already passed in the Senate. So, the reconciliation bill , which passed both chambers, included the 5 percent disregard while maintaining the 133 percent figure.

The bottom line is this: All those newly eligible for Medicaid under the health law can have household incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level. For an individual, that’s about $15,400 a year, compared to nearly $14,900 — 133 percent of poverty level.

Kaiser Health News has decided to begin using the 138 percent figure because it is the effective level under the law.

Of course, the new eligibility level applies only in states that expand Medicaid.  The Supreme Court, in upholding the health law in June, made the expansion optional for states.

Appropriators Focus Quietly On Omnibus Spending Bill


Topics: Public Health, Health Costs, Politics

Nov 19, 2012

Also in the news, the Senate approves legislation to reauthorize federal research and intervention activities to lower the rate of premature births.

Politico: Appropriations Panels Quietly Work On Omnibus
Talks on the giant labor, education and health chapter are lagging because the chief House Republican negotiator, Rep. Denny Rehberg, was preoccupied so long with his Senate campaign in Montana. But enough progress has been made overall that even a reluctant White House is beginning to take notice of the committees’ persistence. Indeed, if the fiscal cliff debt talks end up requiring more cuts from discretionary spending, an updated omnibus would be a far better vehicle for implementing new savings than the six-month stopgap bill that is keeping the government funded (Rogers, 11/18).

The Hill: Senate Passes Bill To Help Prevent Premature Birth
The Senate reauthorized federal research and intervention activities on premature births in a voice vote Thursday night. The PREEMIE Reauthorization Act continues programs established by the 2006 bill, which made the study and prevention of premature births an explicit federal priority. “The PREEMIE Reauthorization Act will save infants’ lives,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes, in a statement. “Preterm birth rates have now dropped for five consecutive years after rising steadily for three decades. The PREEMIE Reauthorization Act will continue to fuel our progress by supporting federal research and promoting known interventions and community initiatives” (Viebeck, 11/16).

CQ HealthBeat: Senate Backs Research Bill On Premature Birth
The Senate passed a measure Thursday to reauthorize research on pre-term labor and infant mortality. The bill, passed by voice vote, would authorize a four-year extension of a law authorizing programs to decrease the risk of pre-term labor, pregnancy-related deaths and infant mortality. The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee advanced the measure by voice vote in September. Before passing the bill, the chamber gave unanimous consent approval to a Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., substitute amendment that would strike provisions to allow the National Institutes of Health to expand, intensify and coordinate its research on the causes of pre-term labor and premature infants. Under the amended bill, the Department of Health and Human Service’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be allowed, not required, to conduct studies on factors relating to premature births. The measure also would allow the department to establish an advisory committee on infant mortality to provide recommendations on programs and strategies that address the issue (Khatami, 11/16).

English: Entrance to the headquarters of the C...

English: Entrance to the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Español: La entrada de la sede de los Centros para el Control y Prevención de Enfermedades (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

Congress Approves Bill Designed To Protect Patients From Stolen Medical Products


English: The western front of the United State...

English: The western front of the United States Capitol. The Neoclassical style building is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Politics, Public Health

Sep 25, 2012

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, some Senate conservatives are considering taking steps to block a deal to avert the automatic cuts called for under sequester.

CQ HealthBeat: Theft Of Drugs, Other Products Targeted In Cleared Bill
Legislation designed to deter the theft of medical products that have not reached store shelves is headed to the president’s desk after clearing Congress over the weekend. The measure is part of a larger government effort to protect patients from stolen medical products that may have been tampered with or handled improperly before they are sold on the market. Supporters say it can be nearly impossible for health care professions to identify those products, posing a threat to public health, and that their theft can result in significant losses for manufacturers (Attias, 9/24).

Politico Pro: Some In GOP Mull Blocking Sequester Deal
Not everyone in Washington is so desperate to avoid sequestration. A handful of Senate conservatives have been gaming out ways to block a deal, if they consider it a bad one — even if it means letting billions in across-the-board cuts go through, according to GOP sources on Capitol Hill. The issue: Republican budget hard-liners fear that the White House, congressional Democrats and their own party leaders will try to replace or forestall the cuts with budget gimmickry or new taxes. They worry that “fake” cuts — savings that would have happened anyway or other accounting tricks — will become increasingly popular, even for moderate Republicans, as the zero hour approaches for the Defense Department (Allen, 9/25).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

Breakdown of political party representation in...

Breakdown of political party representation in the United States Senate during the 112th Congress. Blue: Democrat Red: Republican Light Blue: Independent (caucused with Democrats) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fate Of Health Law Tied To GOP White House, Senate Wins


English: Depiction of the House vote on H.R. 3...

English: Depiction of the House vote on H.R. 3590 (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) on March 21, 2010, by congressional district. Democratic yea Democratic nay Republican nay No representative seated (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Health Costs, Politics, Health Reform, Women’s Health

Sep 24, 2012

Politico reports that Republicans may not get another chance to repeal “Obamacare” if they’re unsuccessful at wresting control of the Senate and the executive branch this year. Other news outlets report on specific House and Senate races.

Politico: ‘Obamacare’ Foes Fear GOP Losses
If Mitt Romney doesn’t win the White House in November, and the Republicans don’t win the Senate, the GOP might not get another chance to repeal “Obamacare.” That’s the reality of the 2012 election, and even the staunchest opponents of the Democrats‘ health care reform law acknowledge it. By the time the 2014 election comes up, all of the law’s major changes will be in place. So if the Republicans don’t win control of the White House and Congress to repeal it before then, the goal of wiping away the law will probably be out of their reach (Haberkorn, 9/22).

Los Angeles Times: Congressional Race Is A Test For Longtime Member Of The House
In Congress, where he is the senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Waxman has shepherded landmark legislation, often enlisting Republican help, on clean air, tobacco regulation and generic drugs. He secured money to fight AIDS and battled government fraud. He was a key player in the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, derided by Republicans as “Obamacare” (Merl, 9/23).

USA Today: Akin Still Confident He Can Win Missouri Senate Seat
In an interview with USA TODAY, the Republican lawmaker — abandoned by his party and GOP outside groups when he made controversial comments last month about the abortion rights of raped women — is unbowed and confident that he is on track to defeat incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Republican Party leaders had hoped Akin would exit the race by a Tuesday deadline to get his name off the ballot in order to nominate another Republican, but the six-term House member has never entertained the notion and has lashed out at “party bosses” who tried to influence the race (Page, 9/23).

National Journal: McCaskill, Akin Face Off In First Debate
The candidates sparred over Obama’s health care law: Akin said McCaskill wanted to take $700 billion out of Medicare, which McCaskill called “the biggest whopper of this campaign season.” She retorted that the law “does not cut one dime in Medicare benefits,” and that Akin had voted to cut that money repeatedly, when he voted for Paul Ryan’s budget (Sobel, 9/21).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

Senate House

Senate House (Photo credit: Peter Schauer)