In 2011 state legislative sessions, lawmakers across the nation in search of common-sense solutions found themselves wrestling with dual challenges on almost every issue: historic budget shortfalls and a charged and starkly changed political climate resulting from an historic wave election in 2010 that saw conservatives take control of 20 new chambers. Both of these factors were front and center on health care measures, as responsible lawmakers joined in the face of these challenges to advance the efficient implementation of the Affordable Care Act, protecting the health security of the most vulnerable and advocating loudly for effective reforms in their statehouses, the courts, and the court of public opinion alike.
In a year that has seen a wave of state legislative attacks coming from corporations and the right wing, a conference of state legislators from all over the nation taking place this week in San Antonio is proving to be a bright spot for those standing up for the middle class and working families. NCSL’s 2011 legislative summit – taking place this week in San Antonio, Texas – is an annual forum for determining the policy agenda on which NCSL will lobby the federal government for the following year. Issues that have been addressed in previous years range from federal spending allocations to rules governing how states have to implement federal laws (like the Affordable Care Act), and the impact of international trade policy on state and local economies. About 700 state legislators attended this week’s conference, as well as over 300 advocacy groups and trade associations.
In this week’s Research Roundup: Reports from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on how states may spend $90 billion less on health care due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on how states and local governments can fight austerity measures and reclaim their futures, the Guttmacher Institute on the record number of state abortion restrictions enacted in 2011, the National Employment Law Project on hiring discrimination a
Beginning almost immediately with the gaveling-in of sessions in January, newly empowered conservatives unleashed a torrent of attacks aimed directly at workers, women, children, immigrants, historically disenfranchised populations, and the very existence of the middle class. Coordinated multi-state efforts like the assault on collective bargaining, extremist restrictions on reproductive rights, broad Arizona-style attacks on immigrants, and attempts to institute new barriers to voting through Voter ID requirements all repeatedly made national news.
In this week’s research roundup: reports by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities examining specific protections states can adopt to limit adverse selection in the state health care exchanges, surveying proposed or enacted state exchange legislation from 2011 legislative sessions and analyzing how cuts in state budgets jeopardize the economic recovery, studies by the Center for American Progress noting how states are leading the charge in enacting tuition equity legislation and identifying the true costs of the controversial E-Verify immigratio
New Jersey Governor Christie is joining the conservative wave of scapegoating by proposing to cut the state’s Medicaid program. The Governor is proposing to put critical services for the state’s most vulnerable populations on the chopping block by asking for a waiver from the federal government in order to cut state spending on Medicaid by $300 million. The cuts include long-term care and have the potential to affect up to 1 million people in New Jersey currently receiving Medicaid.
This morning, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law a groundbreaking health care bill that puts his state on a path towards universal coverage for all residents. The legislation, H.202, sets Vermont on course to become the first state in the nation to implement a single-payer system, and had previously passed both the House and Senate chambers by significant margins.
This past week, 154 legislators from 26 states joined together to send a message to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals now considering a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act: that the framers of the Constitution themselves would have supported the law, and that they will not sit idle while the health security of their constituents is endangered by continuing partisan political attacks against legislation from the right wing. The legislators’ amicus brief supports the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, arguing that the district court ruling was “based on a fundamentally flawed vision of the constitutional role of our federal government and its partnership with the States – a vision that contradicts the original meaning of our Founding charter.”
One year ago today, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law – and the focus of attention immediately turned to the states. Now, one year later, as millions of women, seniors, children, and small businesses are seeing benefits from provisions in the law that have already taken effect, it is even more clear that the states are the venues where the future shape of the law will be decided.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been the topic of heated political debate since becoming the law of the land almost one year ago. As right-wing calls for repeal continue to make headlines, many positive and popular provisions of the law are already benefiting families across the nation. Working-class and middle- class families have seen their health security increased by provisions that rein in insurance industry abuses and expand coverage, making it less likely that they will lose their savings due to an illness or injury, or be unable to afford needed treatments. But as the curtain draws on the first year of the life of the Affordable Care Act, what happens in the second year at the state level may prove to be even more critical to its ultimate fate.