Senate Health Care Reform – Act III

A bipartisan agreement has been reached in the Senate to help stabilize health care markets – from Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and ranking member Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

Among other things, the Alexander-Murray agreement would:

  • fund cost-sharing reduction payments, which help lower consumers’ deductibles and co-pays, for two years;
  • broaden the pool eligible for a “copper plan” (catastrophic medical) coverage option, which would help reduce the mandate implications for essential benefits;
  • include funding to help Americans navigate signing up for health insurance, which had been cut by the Trump administration; and
  • set up high-risk pools that will allow for continued coverage for these individuals.

What this is not is a “repeal and replace”. That said, the two-year funding promise is good news for insurers and would help alleviate their unease, which would also be felt by consumers. But this bill does nothing to address the core problems in the individual marketplace that threaten its sustainability.

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, who has been pushing for bipartisan fixes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has thrown his support behind the Alexander-Murray agreement and is a co-sponsor of the legislation. He stated, “This is the product of hard work from members on both sides of the aisle, and it’s an important step in providing much needed stability to the market. I’m proud to be part of the effort, and I will continue working with Republicans and Democrats to move this much-needed legislation forward.”

President Trump has alternately met the agreement with both optimism and skepticism. Overall, he’s indicated that he would favor a short-term subsidy fix; however, he doesn’t want to help insurers either.

It would appear the bipartisan legislation would garner most, if not all, Senate Democrat votes (as Minority Leader Chuck Schumer alluded to on Thursday), so that would leave a lot of wiggle room for passage if some, or even many, Republicans vote against it. The question is what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will do and what he says to his caucus.

Meanwhile, Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the authors of the Senate’s second ACA reform attempt, have been working with Alexander and Murray on ways the bill can be made palatable to the very conservative arm of the congressional Republicans – most notably in the House.

In other words, this is far from a done deal.

Commentary and Background on the DACA Decision 

President Trump announced last week via U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that President Obama instituted in 2012 by executive order. DACA allows for certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.

Under this decision, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will rescind the executive order that established DACA and not accept new program applicants. It puts 800,000 “dreamers” (including an estimated 10,000 Hoosiers) – children who arrived in the U.S. illegally with their parents at a young age – into legal limbo until it takes effect March 2018. This is an unfortunate turn of events for a demographic group where 90% are either in college or working.

As a result, 15 state attorneys general (all Democrats) filed suit this week to block the President’s plan to end DACA.

During the announcement, Sessions commented that actions under the Obama administration were unconstitutional and that the program should be enacted by Congress. Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) implied that President Obama’s executive order to protect young immigrants brought here as minors was on shaky legal ground and that is why Congress must act.

Over the next six months, President Trump is counting on Congress to do just that and essentially fix the DACA situation once and for all.

The Indiana Chamber believes lawmakers must address the issue as part of a larger immigration reform package, but it remains unclear whether both sides can compromise to reach a solution. Some are adamant that they will not accept any deal to fund even small amounts of a border wall or increased immigration enforcement, and cuts to legal immigration would be unacceptable. Other members of Congress are saying you need to pass this as part of border security, while a contingent believes you need to pass this on its own – which makes the possibility of its success very difficult.

On Wednesday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said he was open to adding legal status for DACA recipients to his RAISE Act legislation – the goal of which is to build a skills-based immigration system similar to Canada or Australia while decreasing the amount of legal immigration overall.

Indiana’s senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young reacted to the DACA news.
“Our country is still in need of reforms to fix our immigration system and strengthen border security, but in the interim we should pass bipartisan legislation to give these young people, who were brought here through no fault of their own, some stability and clarity,” Donnelly said.

“Upending existing protections for the nearly 10,000 young people in Indiana who have been here for most of their lives isn’t the path we should take.” Young stated: “I continue to believe we must secure our southern border and fix our broken immigration system. Irrespective of (the Trump) announcement, that requires a bipartisan solution in Congress that reforms our legal immigration system, prevents illegal immigration and addresses the question of what to do with undocumented men, women and children already here.”

BACKGROUND

So how did we get to this point with DACA and immigration? It’s been many years in the making. Attempts to address illegal immigrants who entered this country as minors date back to as early as 2001.

In 2007, the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act was introduced in the Senate. The Act allowed for a process by which qualifying alien minors would first be granted conditional residency. Eventually, by meeting further qualifications, permanent residency status could be obtained. It failed to be brought up in debate for lack of a filibuster-proof 60 votes. In 2009, it was reintroduced in both the Senate and House, and provided for qualifying immigrants who were between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of enactment; who arrived in the U.S. before 16 years of age; resided continuously in the U.S. for five years; graduated from high school or obtained a GED; and were of good moral character. The bill continued debate into 2010 when the House passed a version, but the bill again failed to reach the 60-vote threshold in the Senate. Unsuccessful attempts were made in 2011 as well.

As a result of Congress’ inability to pass legislation, the Obama administration by executive order implemented the policy position of DACA in June 2012.
In 2013, the U.S. Senate’s “Gang of Eight” passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate. In 2014, the House indicated it had the votes to pass the bill. However, when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary election, House Speaker John Boehner announced that the House would not bring the bill to a vote. As a result, President Obama promised to fix the immigration system as much as possible on his own without Congress and attempted to expand DACA to include the parents (known as DAPA) of these minors. In a memorandum to ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), aliens without criminal histories were to be made the lowest priority and that illegal immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents were to be granted deferred action.

Subsequently, the Texas attorney general – joined by 25 other Republican-led states, including Indiana – sued in federal court in Texas to prevent implementation of the expansion. The case eventually worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court and in June of 2016, a deadlocked 4-4 decision stated that: “The judgement is affirmed by an equally divided court.”  The ruling set no precedent and simply left in place the lower court’s preliminary injunction blocking the program.

Earlier this summer, on June 15, 2017, then Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly signed a memo rescinding DAPA. At that time, it was clarified that the memo did not include DACA and the Trump administration had not decided on whether it would keep that policy in place.

Which brings us to action last week on September 5. Attorney generals from nine states – led by Texas – notified the Justice Department that they would amend the current DAPA lawsuit to include DACA if executive action wasn’t taken by September 5 to phase it out, which prompted the announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session.

Republican Field Grows for U.S. Senate; Reminder of Chamber Endorsement Process

It’s been a busy week for Republicans wanting to challenge Sen. Joe Donnelly for his seat. The number now stands at six.

On Wednesday, Congressman Todd Rokita (IN-04) officially announced his intentions while on the steps of the Indiana Statehouse – it marked the first stop in his nine-city tour sharing the news.

“Hoosiers want a commonsense senator willing to take on tough fights. Hoosiers want a conservative senator who shares our values and works with President Trump and Vice President Pence to turn the country around,” Rokita said. “Hoosiers want a senator who votes the interests of Hoosiers, not the Washington elite. We don’t have that in Joe Donnelly, and too much is at stake to accept it. That’s why I am announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate.”

Rokita’s campaign slogan promises to “Defeat the Elite” in Washington.

Meanwhile, Congressman Luke Messer (IN-06) will formally announces his bid Saturday at the 6th Annual Messer Family BBQ in Morristown.

Senator David Long, President Pro Tempore of the Indiana State Senate, has already thrown his support behind Messer:

“As a young and talented member of the Indiana House, Luke proved his conservative credentials early on by helping us create a new vision for Indiana in partnership with Gov. Mitch Daniels. As a strong and innovative leader for educational choice, Luke fought to ensure Hoosier families and children have the options they need to obtain a world-class education. As a quickly-rising star in Congress, Luke has proven he can work with difficult coalitions of interests to move an agenda for the American people.

“While the Republican Party is blessed to have a number of candidates interested in the seat, I believe Luke to be the absolute best person to effectively represent the interests of all Hoosiers in the U.S. Senate.”

State Representative Mike Braun of Jasper officially entered the race on Thursday. He previously cited the public sparring of Messer and Rokita as well as his business experience as reasons for his decision.

Meanwhile, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill made it clear on Wednesday that he hasn’t ruled out joining the GOP primary.

Other Republicans already in the field are Hamilton County businessman Terry Henderson, Kokomo attorney Mark Hurt and Floyds Knobs educator Andrew Takami.

In terms of any congressional endorsement the Indiana Chamber may provide, the matter is taken up by our federal political action committee (PAC). Bill authoring and voting history on pro-jobs, pro-economy legislation and in-person interviews of the candidates will play large roles in the decision making.

The PAC’s work won’t begin until after the candidate filing deadline early next year – as it’s possible a candidate may decide not to run, while there also could be someone else elect to throw their hat into the ring. But when the time comes, you can be assured that a thorough vetting process will take place before a determination is made to endorse a candidate (or no candidates).

Government Book Getting August Update

Here Is Your Indiana Government: 2017-18 Edition is the most comprehensive guide to governance in the Hoosier state. Since its development in 1942, this book has been used by communities and hundreds of thousands of students (from sixth grade to college level) to learn about Indiana and how Hoosiers govern themselves. A variety of local government and agency updates will be included in the new edition.

Topics include:

  • Interesting facts about Indiana (demographics, state song, motto, origin of county names, notable natives, etc.)
  • Historical highlights of Indiana government development
  • State government (explanation of its departments/agencies and their functions, updated budget information, contact information including phone numbers and web addresses)
  • County government (origins of the counties, the elective county administrative officials and their function, council function, powers of the counties, services)
  • Cities and towns (creation, city classifications, incorporated towns, municipal government, public works)
  • Township government (divisions, schools, boards)

Here Is Your Indiana Government is sponsored by Questa Education Foundation and will ship in August.

Large quantity discount pricing is available as follows:

  • 1 to 9 copies: $21.50 each
  • 10 to 25 copies: $14.50 each
  • 26 to 50 copies: $12.00 each
  • 51 to 75 copies: $10.50 each
  • 76 to 100 copies: $9.50 each
  • 101 or more: $9.00 each

Call (800) 824-6885 with questions or if you’re interested in purchasing the book as an ePub (online edition).

BizVoice Earns SPJ Honors

Congrats to our communications team /BizVoice writers who earned three honors at the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists Awards Friday – a second place and two third place finishes:

Compton Offers Presidential Perspective at Legislative Dinner

Flanked by Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar, Ann Compton regaled Legislative Dinner attendees with her stories about past presidents, and her opinions of President Trump and the media today.

With more than 40 years of experience covering the administrations of seven presidents, former ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton had plenty to share Tuesday night at the Indiana Chamber’s 2017 Legislative Dinner.

A few of her reflections and projections:

On the media: “In this digital age, my business, the news industry, is almost unrecognizable to me. It wounds me to hear that the free, American press is the enemy. We in the mainstream press have to work responsibly and openly to earn back your trust.”

On prior presidents and the media: George H.W. Bush originated the hat with the saying, “Annoy the Media: Re-Elect Bush” (Compton still has hers); Barack Obama “lashed out at the press” in a private, off-the-record session when he was not happy with the tone of the reporting.

On fake news sites: “They are more like criminal enterprises.”

On the ultimate test for presidents: “They are measured by the crises they face.” Compton listed several, including the younger President Bush and 9/11, sharing personal anecdotes about that day as a result of her being the only broadcast journalist on Air Force One after the attacks.

On Donald Trump: “This man is remarkably consistent (in style), but not necessarily on policy.” Noting that 30 years ago he didn’t carry a briefcase or schedule too many meetings, saying, ‘You can’t be imaginative or entrepreneurial if you’ve got too much structure.’ We’re seeing that applied today.

On looking forward: Despite her concerns, she says, “I really do believe the republic is strong, our country is strong.”

View event photos.

The Legislative Dinner, with more than 700 attendees at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, was presented by Ice Miller, with Lifeline Data Centers sponsoring the opening reception. Gold sponsors: Eli Lilly and Company, NIPSCO and St. Vincent. Silver sponsors: Alcoa; American Chemistry Council; AT&T Indiana; Delta Dental of Indiana; French Lick Resort; Hoosiers Work for Health; Indiana Career Hub; IGT Indiana; Ivy Tech Community College; The Kroger Co.; Majestic Star Casino & Hotel; Old National Bank; Roche Diagnostics Corporation; Smithville; and Vectren.

The 2018 Legislative Dinner will take place February 13.

IBRG Election Report: The Power of Democracy and a Nation of Change

ibrgIndiana Business for Responsive Government (IBRG), the non-partisan political action program of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, scored a very successful general election; 57 of 59 IBRG-endorsed candidates facing opposition were victorious, including Republicans and Democrats. Twenty additional endorsed candidates did not face general election challenges.

Eleven new legislators won with IBRG endorsements. IBRG was significantly engaged in support of five top-target candidates in open seat races, as well as successfully defending six pro-economy incumbents seriously challenged with defeat.

In a stunning Indiana election, Republicans swept all statewide races by significant margins, led by a 20 percentage point victory by Donald Trump. Not only wasn’t the scale of these win margins predicted in polling, but once again the final outcome defied expectations just months – even weeks – ago of a coming “market correction” in the GOP’s state legislative super-majority seat counts.

In the General Assembly, Republicans seriously exceeded expectations again in a volatile election environment. In the House, Democrats were able to pick-off just one first-term incumbent Republican legislator in Lake County (after an unprecedented multi-race battle in northwest Indiana for weeks), with the result being a 70-30 GOP majority next year.

In the Senate, Republicans actually managed to expand their majority by another seat to a 41-9 majority. They did so by defending two very competitive open seat races in Indianapolis and by picking up an open seat in LaPorte, largely by default from Democrats.

Twelve new members were elected to the House and nine new members to the Senate. One additional Senate seat will become vacant with a resignation and be filled by a local caucus later this year. This turnover in new seats rivals the huge numbers out of the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.

It seems that every national election in recent times has been labeled “historic” (among many other adjectives) before and after the votes are cast. Without question, the 2016 elections fit that label, but it’s really more than that. A fundamental realignment of the American electorate is well underway, driven by major upheavals and demographic shifts in this nation.

Read the full report. The report includes election results, statistics, and information on key races and new legislators. It will be updated periodically as final tallies and additional analyses are added.

Go Vote! Then Let’s Move from Politics to Policy

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on the election aftermath:

“We probably have just witnessed the most bizarre and bruising election of our lifetimes. It’s critical to move on quickly from any bitterness of the campaigns or results and come together as a state and nation.

“We need lawmakers to concentrate on the business of governing and moving our economies forward. Let’s focus on producing positive outcomes and Indiana continuing to set an example as a state that gets things done.”

The Impact of Early Voting

AHappy to say I voted early and have moved one step closer to putting this madness behind me. Thanks to the Hancock County Public Library for setting up such a seamless operation. (I had been in that very room just two weeks prior listening to a presentation by local ghost hunters. God bless public libraries!)

FiveThirtyEight outlines early voting factors and how it may impact this presidential election:

Early voting may have a slight potential to affect the outcome of this election, but experts say its predictive value is not particularly high.

Burden and McDonald agreed that the majority of people who cast their ballots early would have participated in the election anyway and likely would not have changed their minds if they’d waited until Election Day, so the timing of their votes probably won’t change the outcome. Moreover, McDonald said it’s very difficult to identify national trends in early voting, since the laws vary widely by state and different voting opportunities attract different kinds of voters.

In general, though, Democrats who vote early tend to do so in person and Republicans tend to do so by mail. But that isn’t true everywhere — Oregon, Washington and Colorado all offer mail-in ballots to every registered voter, and most of their votes have gone to the Democratic candidates in presidential elections, at least in the last two electoral cycles. Early voting in the past two presidential elections has favored Democrats, McDonald said.

Well-organized campaigns do have opportunities to capitalize on early voting, however, and this year that could benefit Hillary Clinton, who has a stronger ground game than Donald Trump.

It “opens up more possibilities for voting, boosting turnout in the long run,” said Mark Stephenson, the CEO of Red Oak Strategic, a political consulting firm in Arlington, Virginia. “But it also gives the campaign tacticians the opportunity to analyze and see what is happening over a longer period of time and be efficient with where spending is going as a result. Both, when done successfully by either party, can provide a real tactical and strategic advantage.”

“I suppose it probably advantages the Democrats slightly,” Burden said, “but that’s mostly because the Democrats are organized to take on the early vote more than the Republicans are.”

Jon Ralston, a prominent political reporter in Nevada, noted that Clinton can take advantage of the Democratic Party’s edge in organizing early voting, which was built in 2008 and 2012.

The Clinton campaign uses a variety of techniques for reaching out to early voters, including door knocks, phone calls, emails and text messages, said Lily Adams, a Clinton campaign spokeswoman.

Tickets Going Fast for November 15 Annual Dinner

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Karl Rove and James Carville had an entertaining political discussion at the 2015 Annual Awards Dinner. This year, George Will will talk politics just after the 2016 election.

Newsflash: More than 1,200 people have already registered to attend the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s 27th Annual Awards Dinner on November 15. Are you among that group?

You’ve still got (a little) time to reserve your spot for the annual gathering of business, legislative and community leaders, but seats are going quickly.

Aside from offering a chance to network at the state’s leading business celebration, the Annual Awards Dinner also honors the Business and Government Leaders of the Year, Lifeline Data Centers Community of the Year and the Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year.

We’ve already shared the Lifeline Data Centers Community of the Year winner, the city of Fishers. But the other coveted awards are not officially revealed until the night of the event.

But we’ll offer you a few clues in preparation for the big event:

  • The Business Leader of the Year has been involved in his industry throughout his entire life. It’s in the last 25 years, however, that his company has grown into a powerhouse
  • Our Government Leader of the Year is a long-time small business owner who has helped companies throughout the state save millions of dollars through legislation he has authored and guided through the process
  • And our Dynamic Leaders of the Year have had great success blending today’s technologies with something that many of us have fond memories of from our younger days; and they’re poised for even greater success
    If that’s not enough to convince you to register, remember that Pulitzer Prize-winning political commentator George F. Will is going to headline the event. Will writes a twice weekly column for The Washington Post, and is a regulator contributor to Fox News. He will share thoughts on the condition of the “entitlement state” in America.

The event is presented by Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield and will be held at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. Additional sponsors are Ivy Tech Community College (speaker); Uzelac & Associates, Inc. (opening reception); Hirons Advertising + Public Relations (speaker reception); Lifeline Data Centers (Community of the Year); and Indiana Chamber Foundation (Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year).

Corporate sponsors: AT&T; French Lick Resort; Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino; Ogletree Deakins; OneAmerica; NIPSCO; Tilson; Wellness Council of Indiana; and Zimmer Biomet.

Contributing sponsors: Allison Transmission; City Securities Corporation; Community Health Network; FedEx; Fineline Printing Group; Hunt Construction Group, An AECOM Company; Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick; Indiana Soybean Alliance/Indiana Corn Marketing Council; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; KERAMIDA Inc.; Keystone Realty Group; Markey’s Rental & Staging; Pacers Sports & Entertainment; Roche Diagnostics Corporation; Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.; The Kroger Co.; Vectren; WFYI Productions; and WGU Indiana.

Gold tables are sold out. Silver and standard tables of 10 are still available, as well as Community of the Year VIP section tables. Individual tickets are $149 per person.

Register online or by calling Nick at (800) 824-6885.