News from the Hill – March 2012

Mar 15, 2012

Political Climate

Presidential Race—GOP Primary

Now that several Republican primaries and caucuses have taken place, Mitt Romney has taken a considerable—though not insurmountable—lead over his nearest competitors.  Super Tuesday’s most crucial state was Ohio, which Romney narrowly won.  With Rick Santorum winning three states and coming close in Ohio, along with Newt Gingrich’s victory in Georgia, Romney still has not been able to convince voters or the media that he is the inevitable nominee.

In the latest contests, Santorum won in Alabama and Mississippi and Romney won Hawaii and America Samoa.  Depending on how the next several primaries go, the outcome could still be in question right through the Texas primary in late May.  Texas offers 155 delegates, which are allocated proportionately rather than winner-take-all.

Another interesting component to the electoral landscape is the balance of the U.S. Senate.  With the retirement of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who was favored to retain her seat, another competitive race has been launched.  There are several other states with races that are still forming because most Congressional primaries have not yet occurred (with the exception of Ohio).  We are tracking these races, and will keep you up to date with the latest developments as well as through our endorsement process
throughout the summer.

President Obama Releases Federal Budget

On Monday, February 13, President Obama released his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal. It includes $3.67 trillion in new budget authority, a 3.7 percent reduction from 2012 levels. Further, it includes $1.15 trillion
in discretionary spending and $2.27 trillion in mandatory spending. You can find information about the budget on the White House web site. The House is expected to pass a budget, but the Senate will likely not pass a budget. If Congress does not pass a budget resolution, the previous year’s resolution, which is a multi-year plan, stays in effect.

Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 Becomes Law

On February 17, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, H.R. 3630, which includes a provision to extend the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program through September 30, 2012. This was not a clean extension, meaning there were changes to the
program included. Read more on our blog.

In addition, the passage of H.R. 3630 prevented the 27 percent Medicare payment cut.   While this is not the permanent fix that NASW advocated for, it does prevent the cut that was scheduled for March 1. This bill delays the cut until the end of the year.

The bill did not include a provision to cut off taxpaying immigrants from the child tax credit originally introduced by Rep. Sam Johnson (TX- 3). If the policy change approved by lawmakers last December would have become law, it would have stripped an average $1,800 out of the pockets of two million immigrant families, the majority of whom make about $10 an hour.

The bill was signed by the President on February 22.

RAND Releases New Study on the ACA

On February 16, the RAND Corporation released a new study, Effects of Eliminating the Individual
Mandate in the Affordable Care Act
.  The study found that eliminating the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act would not dramatically increase the cost of insurance for individuals and families through the new exchanges. However, the study also found that individual mandate repeal would
result in 12 million fewer people being insured for about the same level of total government spending.  According to the study, “individual mandate contributes to achieving near-universal coverage for all Americans. However, repeal of the mandate would have only modest effects on premium prices for individuals buying insurance through the exchanges, which would not be enough to trigger catastrophic failure of the exchanges”.

Key findings of the study are as follows:

  • The number of Americans newly covered under the  Affordable Care Act in 2016 would drop from 27 million to 15 million people if the individual mandate were eliminated. Most of those who would
    forgo health coverage if the individual mandate is eliminated would be  younger. That would leave the insurance exchanges with proportionately  more people purchasing insurance in the older age brackets, where premiums would be higher.
  • Eliminating the individual mandate would increase an  individual’s cost of buying insurance through the individual exchanges by  just 2.4 percent–eliminating the individual mandate would sharply  decrease coverage, but it would not send premiums into a spiral that would
    make health insurance unaffordable to those who do not qualify for  government subsidies.
  • Total government spending would increase modestly from  $394 billion to $404 billion. Because so many low-income Americans would  forgo coverage in absence of the mandate, government spending for each  newly enrolled person would more than double, from $3,659 rising to

Through our Legal Defense Fund (LDF), NASW has filed an amicus briefs on the issues of the individual mandate to purchase health insurance and Medicaid expansion.  The read more about NASW LDF, please go to the LDF webpage at:

ACA and Women – Practice Perspective

In January 2012, NASW released a new practice perspective regarding the role of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and women’s health. The perspective entitled, The Affordable Care Act: Implications for Low and
Moderate-Income Women’s Health and Well-Being
, highlights the how the ACA benefits
women.  The implementation of the Affordable Care Act expands access to health care for estimated 27
million women ages 19 to 64 were uninsured in 2010. With rising health care costs combined with limited income growth and increase job loss, women have struggled to get needed care and pay medical bill for themselves and their families. The Affordable Care Act brings change and increases access to health
care through free coverage of preventive care services, new affordable coverage options, and insurance market reforms, including elimination of gender ratings. By 2014, when the law is fully implemented, a majority of the nearly 27 million working-age women who had no health insurance in 2010 will gain affordable and comprehensive benefits.

To read the full perspective, go to:

Administration Announces Alzheimer’s Disease National Plan

Last month, the Obama Administration released the Draft National Plan To Address Alzheimer’s Disease that presents a comprehensive approach toward beginning to address quality care, family and caregiver support and the development of new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.  The draft national plan was mandated by the National Alzheimer’s Project Act that was signed into law in January 2011.

In addition, the Administration announced a $156 million initiative to fight Alzheimer’s disease, including making an additional $50 million available for Alzheimer’s research in the current fiscal year. In addition, the administration announced that its FY 2013 budget will increase funding for Alzheimer’s research by $80 million.

Congressional Social Work Caucus

In March, the Congressional Social Work Caucus (CSWC) will celebrate its first anniversary. Support the CSWC and contact your Representative and Senators and ask them to be a member of this important
caucus that creates a platform on Capitol Hill to represent the interests of social workers throughout the United States. The CSWC consists of social worker Members of Congress and those who support the social work profession and society’s social safety net.

Advocacy Blog Roundup

What’s at stake with the Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act?

Civil rights and quality of care are intertwined.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) Extended

President Obama Releases Fiscal Year 2013 Budget

Women and the Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers

NASW New York State Efforts Stave off Social Work Job Loss

Advocacy Alert Roundup

Save the Child Tax Credit for Working Families

Advocacy Listserv Activity

In February, 1,617 activists sent 5,263 advocacy messages to Congress through Capwiz. The most active alerts were about the Sustainable Growth Rate Fix and the Child Tax Credit. Thanks to all of you who took the time to take action.  To see all alerts, go here.