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The Tri-Caucus sounds the alarm on a looming health cliff
Plus: The WH fills the GOP budget messaging vacuum, Biden’s first veto, and details on the drug being mixed with fentanyl that naloxone won’t work against.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Welcome to Supercreator Daily, your weekday morning guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping the American creator experience. It’s Tuesday, March 21, aka National Single Parent Day.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: Medicare and Social Security have rightfully received a lot of attention in Washington as congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden hammer Republicans for proposing reforms to the earned benefits that would slash benefits for recipients and those same Republicans search for other programs to disinvest from as the GOP looks to cut billions of dollars from the federal budget over the next decade.
But on Monday, the chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus — the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus — sounded the alarm on a looming crisis: An estimated 15 million people, many of whom are people of color and kids, are at risk of losing their health care as Medicaid’s continuous coverage requirement that ensured no one could be disenrolled from the program during the public health emergency ends on April 1.
CHC Chair Nanette Barragan, CAPAC Chair Judy Chu and CBC Chair Steven Horsford were joined by several advocacy groups, including Protect Our Care, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, the National Urban Leagues and UnidosUS, in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra calling on him to use his existing authority to clearly define and enforce states’ legal obligations to ensure Medicaid recipients keep their coverage.
Specifically, Barragan said Becerra can make sure call centers are fully staffed with bilingual workers who can answer questions about eligibility and that community groups and providers are empowered to help constituents with paperwork, which can be cumbersome and confusing.
“COVID exposed health disparities that had long existed. And the Congress, in its wisdom, said let us respond, and while the response was induced by a crisis, the end of the crisis does not make the wide gulf of disparities go away,” Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, said to Supercreator. “So why would we take two steps forward and three steps backward?”
For Horsford, the cost to uncompensated care that will be borne by taxpayers for the people who lose Medicaid is worse than investing in the outreach and infrastructure required to keep them covered.
“[Uninsured people] don’t go away. They go to our emergency room. They end up accessing health care through other ways — taxpayers, the government, still pays for it,” he said. “What we’re saying is let’s keep people connected to their doctor, connected to continuity of care, because that improves outcomes for everyone, rather than disrupting that.”
And while Chu agreed that the Medicaid provision came about because of the pandemic and the public emergency ends next weekend, COVID-19 is still a reality.
“We have people with long COVID. I still keep reading statistics about people who are dying from COVID,” she said to Supercreator. “So for one thing, it’s just so horrendous to think that people think, ‘Well, not here anymore so let’s get these people off of Medicaid.’ We need to make sure we keep this country healthy and that there is an outcry as this happens across the nation.”
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IN OTHER NEWS: As House Republicans search for consensus between the extreme conservative and relatively mainstream members of their conference on how to complete the virtually impossible task of shrinking the federal budget without cuts to Social Security, Medicare and military spending, the White House is on offense with an aggressive campaign to fill the GOP’s messaging vacuum.
The target is the House Freedom Caucus, the group of far-right Republicans who in recent weeks have proposed several ideas to balance the budget:
Recouping unspent pandemic funds
Repealing the Inflation Reduction Act
Blocking President Biden’s student debt relief program
Imposing work requirements on federal programs like Medicaid
Passing legislation to hold non-defense spending at fiscal 2019 levels
On Monday, the White House released a fact sheet with an all-caps subject line — “FIVE-ALARM FIRE” — to warn Americans of the real-world consequences for their families if the HFC got its way.
A White House official said the administration will release a new document each day focused on a different issue, informed by new analysis by federal agencies and the Office of Management and Budget to quantify the damage the GOP proposals could wreak.
Today’s document will focus on how the WH says the proposal will raise health care and energy costs.
On Wednesday, the WH will hit House Republicans for proposing cuts to incentives for manufacturing investments.
The administration will pivot to Medicare on Thursday before closing the week with how HFC’s proposal to keep defense spending flat in next year’s budget would weaken US national security and empower China.
To be clear, the stakes will increase this summer as we approach the deadline to raise the debt limit and government funding expires at the end of September. But for now, much of this is pure politics. Democrats control the Senate and the White House and will reject the most extreme proposals from the far-right. And House Republicans, with their slim majority, will push back against Democrats’ most progressive policies. That means these issues will be resolved closer to the center no matter how loud the bluster is at the margins.
ON ANOTHER NOTE: President Biden on Monday vetoed his first bill to rebuff a Republican-backed measure that would have banned the government from considering factors like climate change when making investment decisions on people’s retirement plans.
“The President vetoed the bill because it jeopardizes the hard-earned life savings of cops, firefighters, teachers, and other workers – all in service of an extreme, MAGA Republican ideology,” White House spokesperson Robyn Patterson said in a statement.
The veto was supported by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, who in a separate statement called it the right thing to do for American companies and families.
“For House Republicans to tell American companies they cannot pursue profits and societal goals when they wish to would be counterproductive and un-American,” Schumer added. “MAGA Republicans were ostrich-like in their actions, putting their heads in the sand, denying the realities of the changing world and trying to force American companies to do the same.”
But Biden received a fierce rebuke from Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, one of two Senate Democrats who joined Senate Republicans in support of the resolution to nullify the administration’s environmental, social, and corporate governance rule.
“The administration’s unrelenting campaign to advance a radical social and environmental agenda is only exacerbating these challenges,” he said in a statement. “Despite a clear and bipartisan rejection of the rule from Congress, President Biden is choosing to put his administration’s progressive agenda above the well-being of the American people.”
Manchin is up for reelection next year and has said he won’t announce his future plans until the end of this one. But it’s hard to read that statement, look at his recent voting record and watch growing antagonism towards the White House that hearkens back to the tension we saw in 2021 and not speculate he’ll run again.
Related: In addition to the veto, Biden on Monday also signed two bills into law. The first nullifies the revised DC criminal code and the other requires the Director of National Intelligence to declassify certain information about the origin of COVID-19.
“We need to get to the bottom of COVID-19’s origins to help ensure we can better prevent future pandemics,” the president said in a statement.
TUESDAY HAPPENINGS: President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing before traveling to the Department of Interior to speak at the White House Conservation in Action Summit. This afternoon, the president and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will host an Arts and Humanities Award Ceremony. Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will attend.
Emhoff this afternoon will also speak at a virtual event celebrating Jewish women leaders in honor of Women’s History Month.
The House is out.
The Senate is in at 3 p.m. and will vote at 5:30 p.m. to advance a bill to repeal the authorizations for use of military force against Iraq.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: The Drug Enforcement Administration on Monday issued a public warning about a sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine, a powerful sedative also known as “Tranq” that the Food and Drug Administration has approved for veterinary use. People who inject drug mixtures containing xylazine also can develop severe wounds, including necrosis — the rotting of human tissue — that may lead to amputation, according to the agency.
DEA administrator Anne Milgram said the agency has seized mixtures of the two drugs in 48 of 50 states, which places users at a higher risk of suffering a fatal drug poisoning. What’s worse: Naloxone doesn’t reverse the effects of xylazine because the substance isn’t an opioid.
Experts always recommend administering naloxone if someone might be suffering from drug poisoning.
Editor’s note: Call 1-800-682-HELP to reach SAMHSA’s National Helpline, a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.