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Posts published in “Day: February 5, 2015”

The ObamaCare soap opera

trahant MARK


The House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act on February 3. Then, this is not new. The House has voted nearly sixty times to either revoke the law or to make huge changes. But this time the House and the Senate are in Republican hands. So that means what was a symbolic act now has the potential of becoming law.

Well, maybe.

The Affordable Care Act is like a national soap opera that should rivet any audience. Will the law survive? What sort of challenges does it face legally and politically? And, most important, what does this daytime drama mean to Indian Country?

Here is the story so far.

Turn back to to 1974. President Gerald Ford signed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act into law, a measure that modernized the federal delivery of health care in Indian Country. But that law had an expiration date; it needed another act of Congress to renew it. And that did not happen. Congress let the bill lapse despite repeated attempts. That’s where the story takes a turn. The whole health care reform debate was heating up and folks in Congress decided to roll the Indian Health Care Improvement Act into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This language was shortened to the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” — and it’s now the law of the land. The Indian health provisions were made permanent so future Congresses would not have to renew them.

The Affordable Care Act had other benefits to Indian Country. The law improved funding channels for Indian health facilities, a source of money that’s growing during lean budget years. Next year’s Indian Health Service budget estimates more than $1.1 billion collected from Medicaid, Medicare, Veterans Health Administration and private insurance.

But Republicans have been adamantly against the Affordable Care Act. Four years ago a Republican House was elected and that body started voting over and over to repeal the law. But nothing ever happened because the Democratic controlled Senate ignored the actions in the House.

But like any good soap opera there are new characters joining the story. The Supreme Court could strike down part of the law, causing a lot of confusion. And the Senate is now run by Republicans who will definitely consider the House legislation to repeal the law. This will not be easy. The Senate usually needs 60 votes in order to pass legislation (stopping the threat of a filibuster). And there are not 60 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

That's another twist. Democrats were short 60 votes back in 2010 — so they turned to an arcane process called budget reconciliation that allowed the legislation to pass with a simple majority, or 51 votes. Now many Republicans are asking their party leaders to do the same thing and use the budget reconciliation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That idea would probably work if there was a Republican in the White House. But you can bet that President Barack Obama will veto any attempt to roll back his signature health care legislation. So that means Congress would need a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto. There are not nearly enough votes in either the House or the Senate to do that.

But many Republicans see repeal (enacted or not) as an important statement that will define the 2016 election campaigns. (more…)

The Kitzhaber press conference

The much-referenced press conference by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber last week, as he discussed various issues concerning Cylvia Hayes and his office.

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Former racing boss followed rules on WY job (Boise Statesman)
Several animal care, cruelty bills in the works (Boise Statesman)
Clearwater Paper declares loss last year (Lewiston Tribune)
Profiling Rep. Dan Rudolph (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow plans single-stream recyclilng (Moscow News)
WA bill would block many vaccine exemptions (Moscow News)
Kerby bill proposes more scholarships (Nampa Press Tribune)
Measles vaccines urged at Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Conflicting reports emerge on school growth (TF Times News)
Aquifer recharge this winter insufficient so far (TF Times News)

Possible third infection of blood disease (Eugene Register Guard)
New Eugene call center adds 350 jobs (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene timeline for Civic Stadium buy extended (Eugene Register Guard)
Oregonian calls on Kitzhaber to resign (KF Herald & News)
Klamath battle continues on "In God we trust" (KF Herald & News)
IOT President Maples drops from Ohio job race (KF Herald & News)
Medford mulls Coker Butte annexation (Medford Tribune)
Three top Harry & David's officers depart (Medford Tribune)
Concerns about oil prices at Coos Bay gas plant (Medford Tribune)
Committee goes to work on marijuana bills (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Oregon deadline for immunization approaches (Portland Oregonian)
Governor's website loses page for first lady (Portland Oregonian)
Bill lets terminal patients take unapproved drugs (Salem Statesman Journal)

Everett nurses go public about contract issues (Everett Herald)
Legislative testimony take from remote areas (Kennewick Herald)
Legislators call for talks on Spokane med school plan (Kennewick Herald)
Senate approved Hatfield hemp legislation (Longview News)
Tighter limits planned for vaccations (Olympian)
Changes ahead for Olympia artesian park (Olympian)
Measles patient shows at Olympia peninsula (Port Angeles News)
Sites considered for sports arenas (Seattle Times)
Seattle minimum wage law soon to arrive (Seattle Times)
Review of vaccinations in Spokane area (Spokane Spokesman)
Washington considers moving its wolves (Spokane Spokesman)
Legislators try to push electric cars (Tacoma News Tribune)
Columbia Land Trust buys 51 key Rock Creek acres (Vancouver Columbian)
Legislature looks at fireworks regulation (Vancouver Columbian)