What a week in politics…
Utahns from both sides of the aisle have been struggling after a week of political chaos. Let’s raise our voices to support good policy, both locally and nationally.
On health care– Last week, Orrin Hatch angered those on both sides of the aisle with his comments about health care. Are Utahns “living on the dole?” Our health care expert, Carrie Butler, weighs in.
On ethics- The firing of James Comey raises questions about whether the federal government can oversee an impartial investigation into the role of Russian hacking in the U.S. election. Will Utah legislators raise their voice to support an ethical investigation?
On public lands: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited Utah to determine the fate of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments, but many monument supporters felt excluded from the discussion and felt his visit was staged and the outcome predetermined. This on the heels of Sen. Hatch’s inflammatory comment about Navajo monument advocates being ‘confused’ about the Monument.
On voter rights: While Trump filed executive orders to investigate unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2016 election, real data has emerged showing substantial voter suppression.
Action Utah Event – THIS WEDNESDAY
Wed, May 17, 12:00p-1:00p – “Community Lobbying 102: Intro to the State Legislature, Legislative Session and Interim Session“. Take a lunch break with Action Utah on Capitol Hill! Get key information on how the state legislature works and how to impact state policy, plus a tour of where it all happens at the State Capitol. Featuring Tara Rollins, Executive Director of the Utah Housing Coalition, and Holly Richardson, former state legislator and Action Utah Issue Captain. RSVP and more details here.
Action Utah has a full slate of projects and priorities during the Interim in the areas of Families and Communities, Environmental Stewardship, Public Health and Government. This week our Health Care Issue Captain, Carrie Butler, walks us through what we need know as the U.S Senate moves towards modifying the American Health Care Act.
Who is living “on the dole” in the U.S.
by Carrie Butler, Action Utah Health Care Issue Captain
Senator Orrin Hatch recently made a statement that made us stop and think hard about the fact that he will be one of 13 men designing a revised health care bill to replace the ACA. In speaking to a reporter about the replacement bill he said, “Let’s face it, once you get them on the dole, they’ll take every dime they can. We’ve got to find some way of getting things under control or this country and your future is going to be gone.”
We can certainly sympathize with Senator Hatch on the idea of “getting things under control in this country”, after all, the US spends far more per capita on health expenditures than any other nation while seeing far worse health outcomes than the other countries. However, we think Senator Hatch may be slightly misinformed on who exactly is “on the dole”. In order to set the record straight, here are a few facts about Medicaid that people may not know.
- Almost two thirds of all Medicaid spending goes towards the elderly and people with disabilities.
- 63% of total dollars spent goes towards medical care for the disabled and aged, while 21% is spent on children. Only the remaining 15% actually goes toward treating non-disabled adults.
- Most Medicaid enrollees are not lazy and unemployed
- 8 in 10 non elderly, non-disabled Medicaid enrollees either work or are members of working families who either work for small firms or firms with no employee sponsored health insurance.
- Nearly 60% of the working adults who are enrolled in Medicaid work more than 40 hours per week. Of those that work part time, many are enrolled in school, and many are providing full time care for children at home or disabled family members.
- In states that have expanded Medicaid, there have been just as many people working or seeking work as there were prior to expansion.
- Many individuals in focus groups and surveys report that receiving treatment for illness such as asthma or arthritis via Medicaid enables them to continue working.
The data above does not show that people are attempting to milk the system for “every dime they can”, but using the system as the safety net it was intended to be. Medicaid provides health care for a population that cannot work, and it serves as a tool for those who are seeking to extricate themselves from poverty through schooling or career change. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. We encourage the Senate to seek ways to reduce cost and improve efficiency rather than repeal a program that is doing what it was intended to do.
Further reading from Kaiser Family Foundation:
“Understanding the Intersection of Medicaid and Work”
“10 Things to Know about Medicaid: Setting the Facts Straight”
1. Let our MoCs know why health care matters to you. The House of Representatives (including all four Utah representatives) voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the amended American Health Care Act, effectively opting to cut health care for 200,000 Utahns, reduce services, medications and care for hundreds of thousands more and threatening up to half of the Utah population with risk of losing their health care due to pre-existing conditions. The Senate later opted to write their own health care bill rather than ratifying the abysmal AHCA bill. Last week Senators Hatch and Lee were among the 13 senators appointed to a special commission to write a GOP repeal and replace bill.
- Call your U.S. Representative and let them know how you feel about their vote on the AHCA.
- Call Senator Hatch and Senator Lee and let them know why you support the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid and what components of health care are essential to you, your family and your community.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251 (DC) // (801) 524-4380 (SLC) // (801) 375-7881 (Provo) // (435) 634-1795 (St. George) // (801) 625-5672 (Ogden) // (435) 586-8435 (Cedar City)
Sen. Mike Lee 202-224-5444 (DC) // 801-524-5933 (SLC) // 435-628-5514 (St. George) // 801-392-9633 (Ogden)
Rep. Rob Bishop (Congressional District 1): 202-225-0453 (DC) // 801-625-0107 (Ogden)
Rep. Chris Stewart (Congressional District 2): 202-225-9730 (DC) // 801-364-5550 (SLC) // 435-627-1500 (St. George)
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Congressional District 3): (202) 225-7751 (DC) // (801) 851-2500 (UT)
Rep. Mia Love (Congressional District 4): (202) 225-3011 (DC) // 801-996-8729 (West Jordan)
Not sure who your U.S. Representative is? Check here.
1. Tell MoCs to check the imbalance of power. Most of our Utah congressional reps weighed in on the firing of James Comey from the FBI last week. Rep. Chaffetz was the only Utah rep to express any concern about the ordeal, calling on Inspector General Horowitz to review Trump’s decision to fire Comey. Sen. Hatch, once one of Comey’s biggest cheerleaders, praised the firing as a “fresh start” and suggested the FBI’s investigations will continue unabated regardless. Sen. Lee also defended the firing and did not address questions about the timing of the firing, stating, “The real test now is finding a candidate that can restore trust in the FBI”. Reps. Bishop, Love and Stewart failed to make any substantive comments on the firing one way or another. Let’s let our reps know how we feel about their responses and call on them to request a special prosecutor and bipartisan independent commission to investigate White House ties with Russia.
- Get informed. Read up on the differences between independent commissions, special committees and special prosecutors here.
- Let your MoCs know what you think about they way they responded to Comey’s firing and call on them to request a special prosecutor AND independent investigation of White House ties to Russia and Russian interference in the 2016 election. Use this call script from Wall-of-us to help you formulate your response to your MoCs.
- Sign petitions like this one, this one, this one and this one asking the U.S. Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor, Congress to demand a special prosecutor and independent investigation into Russia
1. File a comment for Secretary Zinke and the Department of the Interior to #StandWithBearsEars and #StandWithGrandStaircase. Monument supporters prefer you file your comments through them to submit to the DOI to ensure that an outside count is maintained as well as the count within the DOI.
- Submit comments through the Bears Ears Coalition or through Monuments For All BEFORE MAY 26th! And be sure to PERSONALIZE your message! Personalized messages will be counted as such, so be sure to add your own comments to Zinke.
- SHARE this action with friends and family NATIONWIDE. Comments can come from anywhere in America to support our national monuments and the Antiquities Act.
1. Register to vote. Seriously. The most impactful thing each of us can do to affect policymaking is exercise the power of our vote. But we can’t vote if we aren’t registered. Although mid-term elections aren’t until next year, there are still a variety of local elections coming up in 2017 that are equally worth engaging. Commit to registering to vote. If you’re already registered, ask your friends and family if they are registered and help them if they’re not. Let’s make sure our voices are heard!
- REGISTER ONLINE. With a current Utah drivers’ license, you can easily register online here. In order to register online, your Utah drivers license needs to have your current address, but that can easily be updated online right from the same link!
- MAIL IN FORM. If you don’t want to register online, you can fill out this form and mail it in. If you don’t have a Utah drivers license or state-issued ID, fill in the form, including the portion with the last four digits of your social security number to register! (You can leave blank the portion asking for the Utah drivers license number.)
- IN PERSON. You can also register in-person at the county clerks’ office in your county and several other government offices (including your local DMV, the Department of Workforce Services, and the Utah State Department of Health). Click here for a more complete list of locations where you can register to vote in person.
When the riding gets rough, stay the course
With state and federal issues splashing across headlines each week, it can be difficult not to get emotionally entangled in each new crisis. Take a few deep breaths, find your moments of peace away from heated debate, and then commit to a regular schedule of impacting policy through a few simple and easy to take actions each week. The more civic engagement becomes a habitual part of your life, the easier it is.
No matter how escalated or partisan the issues may get at times, Action Utah will remain by your side to bring you vetted information on the issues and simple actions you can take to impact them in a meaningful and nonpartisan way. That’s our commitment to you. If you’d like to support us and our ability help you build stronger communities in Utah, please click here.
Andrea & Katie
Co-Founders, Action Utah
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