News from the Hill – July 2010

Jul 1, 2010

Political Climate

Although it may feel like November’s election is off in the distance, there are actually very few legislative days left for Members of Congress.  For one thing, the House and Senate will go into recess around holidays, such as the Fourth of July.  Secondly, Congress will leave for good well in advance of the election in order to focus on campaigning back home.  This means that most (but not all) legislative business is either taken care of or will simply have to wait until after November 2.

At present, most political analysts are forecasting extremely close margins in both the House and Senate.  The Democrats will either barely hang on to majorities in one or both houses, or the Republicans will narrowly take over one or both chambers, with the House being their likeliest chance at a small majority.  As a result, both parties are shifting their focus slightly away from policy and legislation and toward voters and electoral strategies.

DC Voting Rights Act and Party Politics

NASW, in collaboration with other social justice advocates, continues to seek enactment of the D.C. Voting Rights Act.  However, the seven-year effort to secure a vote in the House of Representatives has stalled due to several events, most notably a gun amendment as well as mid-term election year politics.  Coalition partners, along with NASW, are considering viable alternatives to counteract its opponents.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) has strongly indicated to NASW and the civil rights community that without the gun language, the D.C. Voting Rights Act would be difficult to move prior to the mid-term elections.  The optimism of the previous 18 months is now restricted by political reality and compromise politics.  Despite such, NASW will persist in its pursuit of fairness and equality for the disenfranchised residents of the District of Columbia.

President Obama Reveals the Patient’s Bill of Rights

On June 22, President Obama unveiled new regulations, called the Patient’s Bill of Rights, to help build support and further educate the American people about the new health care law, the Affordable Health care Act.  The Affordable Health Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010.

The interim final regulations issued by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury would apply to most health plans renewing on or after Sept. 23.  The new rules apply to most health plans, except in cases where they are “grandfathered” under the law.

The five rules include the following:

  • Guaranteed coverage for children with pre-existing health problems.
  • A ban on lifetime coverage limits.
  • Phasing out annual coverage limits.
  • Prohibiting insurers from canceling the policies of people who get sick.
  • Guaranteed choice of primary care doctors and pediatricians from a plan’s network.

For more information, click on the Patient’s Bill of Rights fact sheet.

Advocacy Blog Roundup

Secretary Sebelius Talks about Women’s Health

DOL Clarifies Meaning of “in loco parentis” in the FMLA

Congressional Hearing on Cyber bullying

Learn more about the Federal strategy to address homelessness

Congressional Hearing on Corporal Punishment in Schools

As Congress Struggles, CMS Resumes Processing Medicare Claims

Support Essential Extenders Legislation, H.R. 4213

Alert and Update Roundup

Congress Restores Medicare Rates, CMS Resumes Processing Claims

As Congress Struggles, CMS Resumes Processing Medicare Claims

Ask Congress to Stop Child Abuse Deaths