CBO Analysis of ACA Insurance Gains: House Plan Amounts to Repeal and Erase

A new report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirms most of our worst fears about the House Republican plan to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and radically change Medicaid.  The March 13th report released by the Republican-appointed director of the CBO shows the following:

  • Federal Medicaid funding would drop even more than we anticipated – with a total of $880 billion of cuts over the next ten years!
  • The number of uninsured Americans would jump to 52 million in 2026, which is an increase of 24 million compared to the CBO estimate for retaining the ACA.
  • By 2026 the sharp drop in people with insurance would essentially erase all the dramatic gains achieved in coverage over the last several years.

Continue reading

ACA Repeal Bill Becomes a Stealth Attack on Medicaid

Fundamental Change to Structure of Medicaid Would Gradually Yield Deep Cuts

A new analysis of the House Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) projects that the changes relating to the health insurance Marketplace will cause more than 15 million people to become uninsured. And in my opinion, that’s the second worst thing about the bill.

The part of the bill that will probably have a much larger effect over the long haul is a fundamental change in Medicaid. Without so much as a public hearing, the House has slipped into the ACA bill a provision that is likely to permanently constrict federal support for Medicaid and gradually lead to rationing of services for low-income seniors, children and families, and people with disabilities. It does that by capping increases in the federal portion of Medicaid financing, which will shift more and more of Medicaid costs from the federal government to the states. Continue reading

Today, We Honor All Women

Today is International Women’s Day. It began as International Working Women’s Day to honor the International Lady Garment Worker’s Union strike and in the 1970’s, the United Nations officially began celebrating International Women’s Day. Across the world, women are going on strike to highlight issues women disproportionately face, such as sexual assault, curtailing of reproductive freedom, paid family leave, and economic disparities in income and wealth. Within the United States, a related action is taking place, called A Day Without a Woman, which also seeks to highlight gendered issues and continue the protest momentum from the Women’s March on January 21st, 2017.

Protest movements have been a critical part of social change in the United States, ranging from the abolitionist and suffragist movements to union organizing at the turn of the 20th century, the Stonewall Riots, and the Civil Rights Movement. And there are reasons for action—gender disparities still exist. President Obama stated in a speech in 2016, “Today, the typical woman who works full-time earns 79 cents for every dollar that a typical man makes.” Continue reading

Smart Investment: Success from Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program

Soon after very positive findings from North Carolina’s investments in quality early care and education were highlighted in a recent blog, http://www.wccf.org/north-carolina-early-childhood-investment-pays-off/, Michigan is getting major attention with its Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP). The program is particularly focused on at-risk children, with solid results. Continue reading

What does the future hold for justice reform?

Predicting how the new administration under President Trump will view criminal and juvenile justice reform is risky, but concerns about a return to a “law and order” perspective are legitimate.  Based on comments President Trump made during the campaign, his continued refusal to accept the proven wrongful conviction of the Central Park Five, and noting who is at the table with him may signal a move away from what has been a growing bipartisan consensus that the “tough on crime” policies that have led to mass incarceration and outrageous racial disparities was a flawed, inefficient, and ineffective approach.  As state and local governments have moved towards school discipline reform, alternatives to incarceration, and restorative justice, juvenile and adult arrest rates have continued to fall.

Yet, there is evidence that President Trump leans toward the failed policies of yesteryear.  President Trump campaigned on “law and order,” in different ways, even in his inauguration speech in proclaiming that we need to stop the “American carnage” and that “crime and the gangs and the drugs have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”  To be sure, there are some troubling signs in some cases, but the rhetoric also failed to take note of decreasing crime rates every single year since 1994.

For justice reform advocates, waiting to see what might happen could be too late.  Continue reading

The Impact Poverty Has on Children, Families, and Communities

Many have said that you can judge a state or nation by the way they treat their children, and in Wisconsin, our values have historically led to society that supports our youngest citizens. But in the last few years, we haven’t been making the same investments in our future caretakers, doctors, and teachers. Our child poverty rates are still higher than they were before the Great Recession, and we have significant racial and ethnic disparities when it comes to income and wealth.

Our new KIDS COUNT report, “Increasing Economic Security for Every Wisconsin Family” draws attention to the impact poverty has on children and families and highlights a number of policies and programs that lawmakers could implement that would greatly reduce poverty. Not only are these the right measures to take to help all kids thrive, they will save the state money in the long-term by reducing reliance on social programs and increasing economic productivity.

The report outlines three critical components to ending childhood poverty:

  • Providing parents with pathways and support to earn family-supporting wages.
  • Providing children, especially poor children, with high quality early childhood education to ensure they are kindergarten ready.
  • Supporting parents so they can support and care for their children.

To create a vibrant and economically competitive future for Wisconsin, every child, every family, and every community must be given the opportunity to thrive. And with the state budget process approaching and with improved revenue projections, now is the perfect time to for lawmakers to show that children are a priority. While many politicians will eagerly affirm that they believe “our children are our future,” now is their chance to act like they mean it.

Chet Agni