PEOPLE-Local 645

  • Quality of Life Alliance

Legislative Updates

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on February 24, 2010

From Peter Drummond:

Attached please find this week’s state legislative update as well as the following:

  • A simple backgrounder on what FMAP is and why it’s important to job growth
  • The White House health care reform proposal released earlier this week
  • Handwritten letter cheat sheet (we are doing a big push to get handwritten letters out, make sure to distribute this to other members in your local)
  • Talking points to combat critics of FMAP and public investment

Below is the national legislative update.  And remember, if you or anyone in your local is attending lobby day and have not yet let me know please do so immediately so we can get a meeting set up between you and your legislator.

  1. Legislative update.  Below are updates on Jobs/Fiscal relief and health care reform:

Jobs/Fiscal Relief
There will be a procedural vote later today on a jobs bill that includes a payroll tax holiday for businesses that hire unemployed workers, an extension of some expiring funding for surface transportation programs, expense deductions for small businesses and an extension of the Build America Bonds program, which offers limited help fro state and local governments.  The total cost is $15 billion, but the bill does very little for state and local governments.  Moreover, no Republican has yet announced support for the measure.

We continue to push for a jobs bill that includes state and local aid – and will hold a call-in day tomorrow on that issue.  Right now the Senate plans to move a very short term 15-day extension of UI and COBRA benefits.  We then will work to attach state and local aid to another, longer extension at the end of the month.

Some good news – Late last week HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $4.3 billion in additional fiscal aid to states, made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which included an $87 billion temporary increase in the federal share of Medicaid costs, or FMAP.  HHS will now apply the Recovery Act’s increased FMAP to the so-called “clawback” payments states must pay to the federal government under the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003.

State budget savings from reduced clawback payments are retroactive to October, 2008, and will be deducted from what each state would otherwise have owed to the federal government going forward.  A state-by-state breakdown of estimated savings is available here: Obama Administration Grants Relief to States on Payments to Medicare for Part D Costs.

Health Care Reform

Today the White House unveiled its version of health care reform, which is attached.  The proposal, largely drawn from the Senate bill, comes as the White House gets ready to host a bipartisan summit on reform on Thursday, 2/25.  The document makes clear that the President is ready to move reform through budget reconciliation in the Senate, bypassing a threatened filibuster if Republicans do not play ball.

The proposal largely respects the agreement reached with labor on the excise tax.  It raises the excise tax threshold to $27,500 and delays the impact until 2018 for all plans, not just collectively bargained plans.  To make up for lost revenue, the bill applies the Medicare hospital insurance tax to unearned income like interest and dividends of high income households.

AFSCME Legis Bulletin February 24 2010

AFSCME Legis Bulletin February 24 2010

Handwritten letter action 2 22

WH HCR proposal 2 22

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One Response to “Legislative Updates”

  1. MTR said

    I’m curious. If you were a businessman in this economy who sells, let’s say widgets and you can’t seem to find customers for your widgets, would you hire people to stand around and do nothing even if you could get a government credit? The government is looking at the horse from the back end. They need to somehow find the demand. Once the demand is there, then businesses can start hiring again.

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