Vermont Medicaid solution in congressional health reform plan

first_imgSenator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Thursday that the final health reform package that is now headed for House and Senate votes will recognize the early investment Vermont has made in its Medicaid program, meaning more than $100 million in added funding for Vermont’s Medicaid programs over the next ten years.The Medicaid solution for Vermont – one of the last issues to be resolved in final work on the plan — was chiefly negotiated by Leahy with strong support from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.).  The remedy fixes underfunding for Vermont as an “early leader” state that offers more generous Medicaid programs than much of the country. Leahy said, “My argument throughout these negotiations was clear.  Vermont should not be punished for doing the right thing.  It was also a compelling argument because it is widely known that Vermont has been a leader in expanding health insurance coverage over the last 15 years.”Sanders said, “I am pleased that in these very difficult economic times we have managed to prevent the State of Vermont and other forward-thinking states from being discriminated against because we did the right thing in providing health coverage for more low-income people.  States that innovate and have addressed the health care crisis should be respected and not penalized.  I am glad that we have accomplished that goal.”Welch said, “Vermont is widely recognized as an innovative leader among the states in ensuring access to high quality, affordable health care.  It would be more than ironic for our state and its citizens to be penalized because we lead the way.  Thanks to the hard work of Senator Leahy, Vermont will now be recognized – not punished — for its leadership.”As part of the effort to expand coverage to uninsured Americans, health reform proposals in the House and the Senate included expansions of the Medicaid program.  The Medicaid expansion will insure more low-income Americans while also addressing variations in eligibility and benefit levels across current state Medicaid programs.  To encourage state responsibility for newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries, an earlier draft of the Senate bill included a formula giving states a 100 percent match for the expanded population for the first three years, and an enhanced match for that population for all other years.  That formula unintentionally disadvantaged Vermont, an “early leader” state that would not have had any “newly eligible” enrollees under that Senate definition — and Vermont therefore would not have seen any added Medicaid funding.Before the draft Senate bill was finished, Leahy worked to include a bump up of 2.2 percent for Vermont for all Vermont Medicaid beneficiaries for six years.  The 2.2 percent increase fixed the error in the original Senate Medicaid formula that would have given Vermont no additional Medicaid funding.The new package released Thursday includes a two-year enhanced match rate for all of Vermont’s Medicaid beneficiaries from 2014 to 2016.  Beginning in 2014, Vermont will receive an additional federal match rate for certain Medicaid beneficiaries, which increases each year until 2020, when Vermont and other early leader states will receive the same federal rate as all other states.         Throughout the health bill negotiations, Leahy’s Medicaid fix for Vermont was a top priority of Governor James Douglas (R) and of key leaders of the Vermont Legislature.Source: Leahy’s office. 3.18.2010# # # # #last_img read more

Trump Vision Of MexicoUS Border Roils Mexicos Domestic Politics

first_imgLorne Matalon/Marfa Public RadioMexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has low approval ratings following a series of scandals. The leading presidential candidate in Mexico’s 2018 election, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is critical of both Peña and U.S. President Donald Trump.Mexico will elect a new president next year. Although he has now at least temporarily delayed withdrawing the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement, continued uncertainty over NAFTA and U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans for a border wall are roiling Mexican politics. The outcome may have implications for the nearly five million American jobs that are tied directly to trade with Mexico.Former Mexico City mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador is one of several figures who have either declared their candidacy or expressed interest. Others include Margarita Zavala, wife of former president Felipe Calderón and Miguel Ángel Mancera, Mexico City’s current mayor. Peña Nieto’s six-year term ends next year. The constitution bars him from seeking re-election. Mexico’s political parties must nominate presidential candidate by March 2018 for the a vote that will take place the following July. The jockeying has already started.Trump’s election has triggered a rise in Mexican nationalism. A populist Mexican leftist who wants to reduce economic dependence on the United States is channeling that nationalism.  Though defeated in Mexico’s last two elections,  López Obrador is leading in numerous polls as Mexico’s next presidential cycle approaches. He’s riding revulsion over Trump’s anti-Mexico rhetoric. López Obrador told Univisiontelevision journalist León Krauze that Mexico should not accept American military assistance currently provided each year under terms of the Merida Initiative.“I never dreamed in my lifetime of a U.S. president that would be afraid of Mexico, afraid of competition,” Juan Carlos Romero Hicks says.Romero Hicks is a member of the Mexican Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. He says Trump has given the left a political gift. Since Trump’s victory, Romero Hicks has continued to promote an integrated North American economy. But he said that has not been an easy task since the American election.“In the U.S. there’s notion that is not correct that Mexicans are taking jobs from Americans, that we are a security threat. Building a wall is absurd,” he says.López Obrador is leveraging that feeling. He opposes the 2014 opening of Mexico’s oil and gas markets to foreign investors, many in the U.S.– names like Exxon Mobil and Chevron that’ve already moved in. He wants to import less U.S. corn and gasoline. He believes Mexico should stand up for itself. There is a blueprint of sorts. In 2009, Mexico placed tariffs on certain goods from Oregon and California during a trade dispute. The tariffs were only lifted when the U.S. stopped blocking Mexican trucks from gaining full access to U.S. highways. Sharelast_img read more

Japanese eRetailer Buys Popular Messaging App Viber for 900 Million

first_img Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Register Now » February 14, 2014 In a blockbuster move that bodes well for businesses in the messaging space, Viber has been acquired by Tokyo-based internet retailer Rakuten Inc. in an all cash deal worth $900 million.Viber is among the most downloaded phone and messaging apps in the world and boasts a user base of 300 million with most of its users in the United States, Australia and Russia.Related: Yahoo Picks Up Social Diary Startup for a Reported $10 MillionWith the recent unveiling of Viber Out, users can make voice calls to other users as well as unregistered phones. That puts Viber into direct competition with Skype and puts it into a league that Line and WeChat haven’t hit yet.In addition to more than doubling its 200 million users, Rakuten, the sixth largest e-commerce company in the world by sales, expects the messaging service to complement its existing business. Billionaire cofounder and Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani says customers could potentially use the service to get in touch with a merchant before making a purchase. Mikitani says this added personalization will be what puts Rakuten above competitors like eBay and Amazon.The deal is expected to be completed by the end of March.Related: Japan Proposes ‘Super-Maglev’ Train Connecting Baltimore to D.C. in 15 Minutes 2 min read Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Globallast_img read more