I Care, You Care, We All Obamacare – by Dec 15!

By Ming Richie

Healthcare is consistently the number one issue on voters’ minds, and it’s easy to understand why. Confusion surrounding terminology, access, costs and players has most of us struggling to navigate through complicated waters and just stay afloat, as happy and healthy as we can afford. We are excited to see the 2020 Democratic candidates heavily debating possible improvements and solutions to the American healthcare system, to be implemented when we take back the Oval Office. But until then, as we watch the current administration try to roll back or diminish anything President Obama touched (examples: weakening individual state healthcare markets, cutting advertising costs to educate the public on open enrollment, and proposing his own Trumpcare plan which was shot down by his own Senate Republicans), we need to stay alert and be proactive.

We’ve done the research for you – here’s what you need to know about the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” Open Enrollment for 2020 coverage:

  • WHAT: Open enrollment is the annual period during which Americans can enroll, re-enroll or change their healthcare plan in the individual and family market, as well as apply for cost assistance. These 45 days are the only days of the year you can sign up for and receive comprehensive health coverage with the benefits and protections of the ACA. If you miss open enrollment, there are a few options but most have caveats like special enrollment for “qualifying life events” (like changing your job), short term coverage which limits coverage, or employer-based coverage for which you need a job that provides insurance. Bottom line, better to take the time to understand your needs and just get it done in the next month and a half!
  • WHEN: Open Enrollment starts November 1, 2019 and closes December 15, 2019. Your coverage will start January 1, 2020.
  • WHERE: HealthCare.gov or your state’s official marketplace.
  • EXCEPT: California: we’re special! Our Health Insurance Marketplace is called Covered California. Open Enrollment started October 15, 2019 and closes January 15, 2020. But you still MUST apply by December 15, 2019 for your coverage to begin January 2, 2020 – visit CoveredCA.com to shop now.
  • HOW MUCH? How much you pay depends on how much money you make. You cannot be charged more or discriminated against based on health status, race, color, national origin, age, disability or sex. You may receive cost assistance based on income – these subsidies are only available during open enrollment and through your state’s health insurance marketplace (see this Estimate Subsidy Calculator).

What to do:

First, enroll yourself and your family in healthcare coverage for 2020.

Second, spread the word to everyone you know! Open Enrollment is November 1 to December 15, 2019. We’re all in this together.  

More info:

Need in-person help? Click on this link, and you can also learn more facts here

Obamacare” by Nick YoungsonAlpha Stock Images

Ming Richie (IG @mingonthemove) is a basic millennial, having quit her corporate Bay Area job to travel the world, soul search and transition to a more meaningful career. She loves everything avocado, yoga, green tea and women’s empowerment, while of course fully maintaining that she is a unique, outstanding individual who can change the world.  

Save our healthcare, save our lives

Deadline: Do it now! – Our healthcare is under attack by the GOP, again — or to be accurate — STILL!

In December 2018, the trial court in Texas v. US, a lawsuit brought in February 2018 by several states’ conservative Attorneys General, ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act is invalid. That’s bad, but it’s just a single trial court. The case is now on appeal to the powerful Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where on March 25, 2019 the Department of Justice agreed, urging the appeals court to strike down the entire ACA. That’s scary, but it gets worse: the DOJ’s reversal of its position was apparently taken over the objections of its own Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and those of Attorney General William Barr.

This is of course just the administration’s latest try to kill the ACA (and many many of us, along with it) — but it’s a doozy. As Indivisible National says:

This is the Trump administration’s clearest attempt yet, not just to sabotage, but to completely annihilate the ACA — and in doing so, unleash chaos on our health care system and on millions of Americans lives.

We’re pissed. And we know you are too.

→ It would jeopardize Medicaid expansion in 37 states.
→ It would end protections for preexisting conditions.
→ It would end coverage for young people who’d otherwise be able to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.
→ It would end required coverage of preventive care — like cancer screenings, vaccines, birth control, blood pressure tests and more.

And so, so much more.

You’ve fought for the ACA and sane healthcare policies before. It’s time to join the battle again!

What you can do:

  • Learn more about the legal case in Indivisible’s article
  • Thank California Attorney General Xavier Becerra – he’s one of the state AGs defending the ACA in Texas v. US, and he has announced that he and other AGs will appeal the district court’s ruling striking down the ACA to the Fifth Circuit.
    • Attorney General Xavier Becerra:  (email);  (800) 952-5225 [select English or Spanish, then press 0]
  • Thank your Representative for cosponsoring Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (WA-07) Medicare for All Act (H.R. 1384), and ask them to continue to speak out publicly and to do all they can to support the ACA and to reform our health care system to guarantee health care coverage for all. For more info about the Act, read Indivisible’s article
  • Thank Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris for speaking out, and ask them to continue to do all they can to support the ACA and to reform our health care system to guarantee health care coverage for all
  • Watch for a bill House Democrats unveiled on March 26, the Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions & Making Health Care More Affordable Act, which Leader Pelosi said “lowers health care insurance premiums, stops junk plans, strengthens protections for pre-existing conditions and reverses the GOP health care sabotage.” She also commented, about the DOJ’s position in the Texas v. US lawsuit: “.. . . [T]he Department of Justice becomes the Department of Injustice when it wants to tear down health care benefits.  Because as Dr. King said, ‘people could die’ – people could die.”

Call now!

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841; 1 Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco CA 94104
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553; 333 Bush Street, Suite 3225, San Francisco CA 94104
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095; 440 Civic Center Plaza, 2nd Floor, Richmond, CA 94804
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661; 1301 Clay Street #1000N, Oakland CA 94612
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065; 3615 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley CA 94546

July meeting with Sen. Feinstein’s State Director

By Janna Layton and Catya de Neergaard

On July 25, 2018, a group of Indivisible East Bay members held our regular meeting with Senator Feinstein’s state director, Sean Elsbernd. As usual, the talk ranged over a wide variety of subjects, and Sean gave detailed answers to a large number of questions.

IMMIGRATION

Family Separation, Reunification, and Detention

Sen. Feinstein’s Staffers’ Visit to the El Centro Detention Center:

  • Sean reports that two of Feinstein’s staff visited the El Centro detention center last week, where they witnessed horrible conditions:
    • One cell was over capacity by about 30 people
    • The only food item available for any meal is a bean and cheese burrito
    • Separated children did not even have mats
  • Both children and adults are held in El Centro
  • Staffers were not allowed to bring mobile phones or speak to detainees
  • Feinstein was deeply troubled by her staffers’ report, and contacted Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
  • Feinstein’s reaction to the visit was covered in this article by the San Diego Union Tribune.

Other Detention Centers:

  • Feinstein has not visited any detention centers and is not likely to. The detention centers are more likely to prepare ahead of time for a visit from Feinstein than they are for her staffers.
  • Staffers will visit all centers in CA to determine if what they saw at the El Centro facility is typical or a one-off. Feinstein wants this information before Judiciary Committee hearing.
  • Staff are going to the Yuba City detention center next week, but will have similar restrictions as in the El Centro center.
  • Several detention centers have cancelled their contracts with ICE.
    • It is important to note that detainees in those centers are not released, but transferred to different centers.

Other Issues:

  • In the 48 hours before our meeting, it was announced that hundreds of parents have been deported without their children.
    • The ACLU suspects many of these parents might not have gotten asylum hearings.
  • Senator Harris’s REUNITE Act – a Feinstein staffer wrote the bulk of this act, so Feinstein will likely eventually support it. 
    • However, Feinstein has been working on another, similar act that has the support of all Democratic senators, which she believes has a better chance of passing.
    • Sean is unsure if Senator Cruz is still talking with Feinstein re: her act, but if he is, it is only because of local resistance groups in Texas putting pressure on him.

Asylum Seekers

  • This has not been focused on as much because there are so many issues to be highlighted, and the public can only take so much.
  • The fact that Attorney General Sessions does not attend oversight hearings as he should has been has been overlooked.
  • Even some GOP moderates like Senator Rubio have disagreed on the Trump administration’s treatment of asylum-seekers from Central America

ICE

Appropriations Bill:

  • Feinstein voted against the bill in the Appropriations Committee
  • This might get brought up again in September
  • There is slim chance of a government shutdown. Senator McConnell and Congressman Ryan know how bad that would look. However, Trump might not care.

Splitting ICE:

  • Feinstein has not discussed this with Sean.
  • If done, it would likely be done by Sessions rather than legislature.
    • If Sessions does this, it might be because part of the group that wants to break off from ICE is a union that supported Trump.

Other:

  • Sean will follow up with Feinstein re: letter to Grassley

 

SOCIAL SAFETY NET

Health Care

  • Senator Feinstein spoke with Peter Lee in the Covered CA administration.  It is expected that Covered CA rates will go up sharply next year. This will give Senator Feinstein a platform for a strong message to wrap the ACA mess around the Republicans. Hurt in the pocketbook is going to wake people up to the message that Republicans broke healthcare. They need to fix it.
  • We have asked Feinstein frequently and continue to ask her to consider supporting the single payer system. Sean usually replies that such a bill, for example, the ‘Medicare for All Bill’ introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders, doesn’t currently have any hope of passing, so it is a low priority.

Housing/Homelessness

  • Senator Harris introduced The Rent Relief Act in the Senate on July 19, 2018.  There is already a similar bill in the House. Senator Feinstein joined Senator Harris in the introduction and will continue to touch base with Senator Harris about this bill. This bill is a big CA issue. 
  • IEB strongly supports the Rent Relief Act’s goal of giving low-income residents more federal support to pay for housing. Indivisible can to help this bill along by getting more co-sponsors.
  • Senator Feinstein is working on a new plan for cities and counties to apply for a new federal grant program to address homelessness. There would be strict quality controls, for example, for low income housing. She is calling it her ‘first day’ bill because she plans to introduce it the first day of the new Congress (provided, of course, that she wins the election).
  • Possible housing solutions:
    • Senator Feinstein has visited or had her staff visit various ‘tiny homes’ and other solutions to homelessness.  
    • She has a binder listing the name and description of the shelters and other facilities for the homeless across the state.  She sees the scope and quality of solutions across the state.
    • There is no one size fits all solution for homelessness and the housing crisis.
  • One potential source of funding is the VA. The VA and various veterans’ assistance programs have pots of money.  Housing homeless veterans with the money could be considered a front end solution to prevent the medical catastrophes that come with homelessness.
  • The federal government and each county have surplus property that could be used to build low income housing.  There is a federal law to transfer surplus property. The feds have just transferred a big lot between 7th and 9th streets to the City of San Francisco for $1.

 

NATIONAL SECURITY AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Helsinki/Russia

  • There was a hearing that day in the Senate Formulations Committee with Secretary of State Pompeo testifying.
    • Feinstein is not on that committee, but she is anxious to talk to colleagues about how it went.
  • Feinstein does not think Russia will be an issue that sways Republicans, but trade. Last summer, Feinstein held a forum with farmers in the Central Valley. They said if trade issues continue until Labor Day, that will hurt their businesses. They invest their money into resources at the beginning of the year, so this is a big issue for them.
  • Efforts are being made by Intelligence to get info on what was said at the Summit, but it is unlikely that transcripts will be made public. Such transcripts have not been public for previous administrations.

Iran

  • Sean noted a Washington Post article that reported anonymous White House staffers have said Trump’s tweet was a distraction from North Korea.
  • Feinstein does not give his tweet much credence.
  • The Iran Deal is important to her, as she worked on it.
  • It is unlikely the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act will go to the Senate floor or be amended to something.
  • Sean will talk with Feinstein re: Senator Merkley’s 2001 AUMF replacement

Election Security

  • Feinstein has been focusing on California’s election security with CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla, not nationally, because she is pragmatic about what she can accomplish.
  • Sean will check with her re: Wyden’s act.
  • It is important for local groups to reach out to their Board of Supervisors regarding election security.

Security Clearances

  • Feinstein thinks this is a distraction technique and not a big issue.
  • Some former officials have said they don’t need it anyway, and temporary clearances can be gained if needed.

Whistleblowers

  • Sean stated that Feinstein has always protected whistleblowers.

 

ENVIRONMENT

EPA Fuel Economy Waiver for CA

  • Feinstein is very aggressive on this, because she passed the laws that let CA do this.
  • She has lobbied extensively, including reaching out to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
  • Advocacy groups need to elevate this issue.
    • One choice would be for consumers to demand car manufacturers continue to meet high fuel efficiency standards even if standards change.

Puerto Rico

  • We talked about the disaster in Puerto Rico in the context of the growing effects of climate change all over the country and asked if Feinstein would co-sponsor the Rebuilding Resilient Energy System Act to allow Puerto Rico and other disaster-affected areas (like our own state) to be rebuilt with greener and more resilient infrastructure; Sean said he would look up the bill and convey our request to the Senator.
  • Nationwide, Indivisible can help by writing lots more letters on the situation in Puerto Rico to their MOCs. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida would be a good person to lobby because he has 10 to 20K new Puerto Rican voters in his state.
  • Senator Feinstein will continue to advocate for Puerto Rico, but the Kavanaugh  nomination is her priority.
  • We thanked the Senator for co-sponsoring the Washington DC statehood bill and asked if Feinstein would introduce a Senate version of the Puerto Rico Admissions Act; Sean said she would not, because it isn’t going to happen in 2018.

 

JUDICIARY

Judicial Nominations

Supreme Court:

  • According to Sean, Senator Feinstein does not consider the proposal to request and view documents regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh a “sinking ship.”
  • The Senator’s negotiations have been focused on these documents. They are important because they get Kavanaugh on the record and give insight on his positions. Some valuable documents have been found already.
  • Half a million dollars have been given each to Senators Feinstein and Grassley from the Rules Committee to research this. Feinstein is using the money to hire staff to research and comb through documents.
  • The GOP is trying avoid the Democrats pointing out the hypocrisy of their treatment of this SCOTUS nominee versus their treatment of Obama’s nominees
    • Schumer has video of Grassley demanding all papers on Kagan.
    • This tactic won’t change McConnell’s mind, but might affect Republican senators who are on the fence.

Court of Appeals:

  • The Senator’s focus has been on Kavanaugh, and Sean does not have a statement from her on Eric Murphy, nominated to the Sixth Circuit, or Ryan Nelson, nominated to the Ninth Circuit.

 

TALK TO YOUR GOVERNMENT

Town Hall

  • We want Sen. Feinstein to commit to hold a town hall after the election; Sean said that she would think about that after the election.

Join the meetings!

  • Indivisible East Bay meets with Sen. Feinstein’s key staff every month. Be part of our team! It’s a fascinating way to find out more about the things you care about. Meetings are announced in the IEB weekly newsletter; subscribe to the newsletter for this and more!

 

Photograph by Catya de Neergaard 

Still Need to Enroll in the ACA? Here’s What to Do (But Act Fast!)

The deadline to enroll in the Affordable Care Act is fast approaching. Some states, including California, have extended deadlines: Covered California open enrollment ends January 31, 2018. But Friday, December 15, is the deadline for people in many states to enroll for healthcare under the ACA.

ACA Open Enrollment is the annual period to enrollswitch plans, and get subsidies; it’s the only time people can sign up without qualifying for special enrollment and avoid a monthly fee.

What you can do: First, enroll yourself & your family, then spread the word to everyone you know about the imminent deadline.

There’s free drop-in enrollment help at the Oakland and Richmond Public Libraries:

More important info:

Obamacare Enrollment Alert

Save ACANot content with putting us through the heart-stopping fear and anxiety that our health insurance will become unaffordable or nonexistent, Trump ‘n GOP have also been trying every which evil way to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, including:

  • They shortened the 2018 Obamacare enrollment period from 3 months to 6 weeks; sign up begins November 1 and ends December 15, 2017;
  • They reduced by 90% the advertising funds to let people know about the deadlines;
  • Spending on the Navigator system, in-person enrollment assistance, is set to be cut by 41% from 2016 levels.

Open enrollment is the only time people can enroll in a health plan on the individual market without qualifying for special enrollment. You need to get covered during open enrollment 2018 to get cost assistance and avoid a monthly fee in 2018. Learn more about open enrollment here.

Here’s what to do. First, don’t forget to enroll yourself and your family, and then please help get this important information about the brief enrollment period — November 1 to December 15 to everyone you know!

Healthcare

 

 

Phone Bank to Save the ACA

By Ann Daniels

By now you’ve read about the Senate’s heartless WealthCare bill that will gut Medicaid, send health insurance premiums skyrocketing, cause 15 million people to lose health care by next year, punish people who don’t keep continuous coverage by preventing them from getting insurance for six months, and many other terribles.

This bill is evil. It is so cravenly, obviously evil that even Senate Republicans are starting to admit that it will do nothing to help their constituents. But they’re not getting there on their own – the sustained calls and protests by constituents across the country are demonstrating to Republicans that passing this bill will be political suicide.

We need to flip three Republicans to kill the Senate bill. Some sources report that Senators like Rand Paul also oppose the bill, but we can’t count on them. They oppose the bill because it’s not cruel enough, and there’s still time for the majority leaders to get their support by amending the bill to make it worse.

That’s why Indivisible East Bay’s primary action this week is phone banking into states with Republican Senators, urging constituents there to call their representatives and demand that they vote NO on repealing the ACA.

Join us on Wednesday, June 28, from 3-7 for a joint phone bank with Indivisible Berkeley at the Ed Roberts Campus (please use the link to RSVP if possible). Or use one of these tools to locate other phone banks this week!

Wednesday, June 28, 3-7 PM (come for part or all!)
Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St, Berkeley, CA 94703
Bring a phone, headphones and a laptop or tablet! Training and refreshments will be provided.
Ed Roberts Campus is directly above Ashby BART. An elevator takes you directly there from the BART station and the campus is accessible. Parking is available in the ERC lot or across the street at BART.