March 28, 2017

Voices from the Capitol (XII): the Affordable Care Act is here to stay

Some good news last week from Washington, as Congress’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act came to an end. This lifted some budgetary clouds here in Connecticut in regards to Medicaid, but the debate continues on how to close the budget gap.

Next Week: Committee Hearings

Appropriations Committee

Monday, April 3 - Room 2E, 12:00 PM - Agenda

We usually do not bring up hearings that will take place next week, but Appropriations has a very busy one next Monday. It includes a number of bills on the spending cap, consensus revenues, municipal aid, Medicaid expenditures, Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula, the timeline for releasing the budget, the recommendations of the Juvenile Justice Policy Oversight Committee, and the Child Welfare Oversight Council. We are reviewing the full list and will follow up with another e-mail that discusses some of the highlights.

How to testify: Speaker order will be determined by a lottery system. Lottery numbers will be drawn from 9:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. in first floor atrium of the LOB. Please submit 60 copies of written testimony to the Committee staff at the time of sign-up. Email written testimony in Word or PDF format to APPtestimony@cga.ct.gov.

News: the Affordable Care Act Is Here to Stay

The U.S. House of Representatives intended to vote on the American Health Care Act, the bill to repeal sections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), last week. The vote was scheduled for Thursday, but they postponed the vote to Friday because the bill lacked support. On Friday, the votes were still not there. Public pressure against a bill that would have left 24 million people without health insurance was so intense that Speaker Ryan could not bring the AHCA to the floor.

Governor Malloy, as well as Connecticut federal and state lawmakers, breathed a sigh of relief. Besides enabling millions of people across the nation to remain insured, the news meant that Medicaid funding will remain as-is for now. An ACA repeal would have created a billion dollar hole in the state’s budget, making a bad situation even worse.

For the many of you that participated in the campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act, thank you. Much has been written about the debates and how the bill was drafted and amended, but at the end what mattered was the realization by many lawmakers that the bill would have harmed millions of children and families. Your voices made a difference. Again, thanks.

News: Bills We are Tracking

Several bills we have tracked over the past few weeks have been voted out of committee and are on their way to a floor vote:

S.B.1 An Act Creating a Paid Family and Medical Leave System in the State
 - This bill will create a paid family leave system in Connecticut. Click here to read our testimony.

S.B. 894 An Act Establishing the State Oversight Council on Children and Families - This bill will add additional oversight to the Department of Children and Families in anticipation of the end of the federal court monitor. Click here to read our testimony.

S.B. 912 An Act Concerning Revision to the Staff Qualifications Requirement for Early Childhood Educators - This bill will allow early care teachers that hold a degree from regionally accredited higher education institutions to qualify for teacher requirements. We testified in favor of this change here.

H.B. 6021 An Act Concerning Homeless and Unaccompanied Minor Consent to Primary Care - This bill will improve access to primary care for at-risk minors. You can read our testimony here.

H.B. 7040 An Act Implementing the Governor's Budget Recommendations for Human Services Programs - This one is a bit different than the previous bills. H.B. 7040 is an implementer bill, that is, a bill used to roll out the provisions set in the Governor's budget proposal. Committees usually let these bills through without changes, leaving amendments for later in the process. The Human Services Committee, however, took a different approach, and did introduce changes to the bill before sending it to the floor, reducing many of the budget cuts. As the budget will be finalized on the floor, pressure will need to continue to ensure that these and other cuts don't return to the final budget. You can read our testimony here.

Spotlight: Connecticut’s Upside-Down Property Tax System

As Ellen Shemitz, our Executive Director, and Ray Noonan, Associate Policy Fellow, published in an op-ed last week, “there is something terribly wrong with taxes in Connecticut, but it is not what the conservative think tanks would have you believe.”

Hint: it's property taxes. Continue reading here.

What We Are Reading:

Reminders:

Still time to take action - we sent an alert urging you to call your legislators and tell them that we need a balanced budget approach that includes new revenue. Call now if you haven’t done so.

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Education, Health