What happened this week courtesy of Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA). Here is a link to the entire list.
- On May 22, 2017 the Trump Administration and the Republican-led House of Representatives requested an additional 90 days to resolve a lawsuit related to Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies. These subsidies help reduce premiums for people who are on the ACA exchanges. Insurers must submit rates in June for next year and this three month delay will raise questions about the continued availability of the subsidies. With the repeal and replacement of the ACA still not resolved, the Trump Administration is using this subsidy issue to create uncertainty for insurers and consumers. In fact, Trump has stated on numerous occasions that destabilized exchanges could help bring Democrats to the negotiating table.
- Businessman turned President-elect Donald Trump pledged that the Trump Organization would donate all profits his hotels made from foreign governments to the United States Treasury. Because the President has refused to divest his ownership in the Trump Organization, this was an important step to ensure he was not in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution – which bars federal government officials from taking gifts from foreign governments. On May 24, 2017, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to the Trump Organization, raising concerns about their responsiveness in identifying profits made from foreign governments. The Trump Organization has basically argued that it’s too hard to identify every instance and that it would “diminish the guest experience of our brand.” Instead, the Trump Organization plan essentially seems to be that any foreign government representative spending money in a Trump hotel should simply identify him or herself and report expenses. This is, of course, wholly inadequate and raises more questions about ethical aspects of Trump’s business interests.
- On May 30, 2017 the Office of Management and Budget posted a draft rule reversing an Affordable Care Act requirement that employer offered health care plans must cover all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, as well as patient education and counseling. The posted rule would allow any employer citing a religious objection to opt out of offering coverage for birth control. There is already a limited exemption in place for certain religious organizations and some qualified private employers. If enacted, this expanded exemption would put millions of women at risk of losing access to contraception. More than half of non-elderly Americans have employer-sponsored health insurance. While not finalized, this is one of the ways that the Administration can weaken the ACA without Congress.
- On June 1, 2017 President Trump announced he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. Once again, he is demonstrating a shocking unwillingness to even acknowledge the scientific reality of climate change. Further, he reveals an equally shocking refusal to recognize that rule of law nations abide by their international commitments. This agreement represents the resolve of 195 countries to protect the health of our planet and its people. With this reversal, the U.S. joins only Syria and Nicaragua in opting out of the accord. I am deeply troubled that the President is refusing to acknowledge the collective responsibility we all have, as citizens and as a nation, to address the underlying causes of climate change.