September 7, 2017: CA Housing Bill, New ACA Repeal Effort
- SB-2, a California bill that would establish a new funding source for affordable housing projects, is up for a vote in the Assembly.
- Senators Cassidy and Graham are leading a new effort to bring the Senate's ACA repeal bill back.
SB-2 - Building Homes and Jobs Act:
SB-2 is a California state bill (principally authored by San Diego-area state senator Toni Atkins) that would impose a new fee of $75 to $225 on certain real estate transactions. The funds raised by the fee would be shared between local governments and the state Department of Housing and Community Development to assist homelessness programs and help fund affordable housing development. The fee is estimated to generate $258 million per year in new revenue.
Homelessness is a major crisis in many California cities. In San Diego, recent counts have shown a 35% increase in homelessness since 2015, and the lack of appropriate sanitation and facilities has contributed to a hepatitis outbreak that has now been declared a countywide health emergency. Although this bill would provide additional funding for homeless programs and affordable housing, the Sacramento Bee reports that state legislators (including Democrats) are hesitant to approve the bill after having already increased the gas tax.
Cassidy-Graham ACA Repeal Proposal:
Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are reportedly part of a new (and possibly final) effort to revive the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA, "TrumpCare") and repeal the Affordable Care Act. Under the Cassidy-Graham proposal, the federal ACA and Medicaid programs would largely be repealed and delegated to the state level. Federal funding for these programs would be converted to block grants to the states, and would be sharply decreased from current levels—funding would be cut by a third by 2020, and completely eliminated by 2027. States that expanded Medicaid under the ACA—including California—would therefore be especially hard hit.
The Cassidy-Graham proposal would also eliminate the federal individual and employer mandates, and eliminate all federal ACA subsidies and cost-sharing payments, giving states the option to use part of their block grants to implement subsidies. Like previous versions of the AHCA/BCRA, it would also weaken protections for pre-existing conditions, allow insurers to charge higher premiums to seniors, and allow states to change the definition of essential health benefits—the latter of which would also re-open the door to lifetime caps on benefits which are no longer considered "essential."
According to a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian, the budget reconciliation process by which the GOP can avoid a filibuster will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, September 30. After that, the current ACA repeal effort would likely be dead.
- There's one Obamacare repeal bill left standing. Here's what's in it. (Washington Post)
- Cassidy-Graham: the Obamacare repeal plan McCain is supporting, explained (Vox)
- Congressional Record, July 26, 2017 (details of Cassidy-Graham amendments to BCRA begin on page 22)
Call to Action
Today I will be calling both of my US Senators and asking them to oppose the Cassidy-Graham proposal. I'll also call my state Assembly member and ask him to support SB-2.
If you don't know your US Senators' contact information, you can look it up here: http://contactingcongress.org/
If you are from California and don't know who your state representatives are, you can look up that information here: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/
Call Script to Oppose Cassidy-Graham:
"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling because I've seen reports that the GOP is still trying to bring back the BCRA with a new amendment from Senators Cassidy and Graham, and I'd like to ask Senator _____ (name) to please oppose this attempt to repeal our healthcare. Slashing federal healthcare spending and converting the ACA and Medicaid to block grants will hurt patients all over the country. Thank you."
Call Script to Support SB-2:
"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to ask _____ (Assembly member's name) to please vote in favor of SB-2. We are in the middle of a huge housing and homelessness crisis in California, and in order to solve these problems we need the state to properly fund affordable housing efforts. Thank you."