Under Trump, unemployment rate rises for Black workers

By Freddie Allen (Managing Editor, NNPA Newswire)

blackmanjobless
 Black man who has lost his job
During President Donald Trump’s first full month in office, the Black unemployment rate rose as the White unemployment rate fell, according to the latest jobs report.
Key employment indicators show that Black workers lost ground in February. The unemployment rate for Black workers increased from 7.7 percent in January to 8.1 percent in February. The labor force participation rate, which is the share of the population that is employed or looking for work, ticked down from 62.4 percent to 62.3 percent in February. The employment-population ratio, which is the share of the population that has jobs, also declined for Black workers from 57.5 percent to 57.3 percent in February.
Meanwhile, the White unemployment rate inched closer to 4 percent, decreasing from 4.3 percent in January to 4.1 percent in February. The labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio for White workers also improved.
The jobless rate for White men 20 years-old and over dipped below 4 percent in February (3.8 percent). Even though the labor force participation rate for White men slipped from 72.1 percent to 72 percent, the employment-population ratio for White men increased from 69.2 percent in January to 69.3 percent last month.
The unemployment rate for White women 20 years-old and over decreased from 3.9 percent in January to 3.7 percent in February. The labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio for White women also showed gains in February, which indicates that White women were able to join the labor market and find work at higher rates last month compared to January.
Black men fared worse than other adult groups in the job market last month. The unemployment rate for Black men over 20 years-old increased from 7.3 percent in January to 7.8 percent in February. The labor force participation rate slipped from 68.1 percent in January to 67.8 percent in February. The employment-population ratio also declined, falling from 63.1 percent to 62.5 percent in February, the biggest decline for any adult group that month.
Not only did the unemployment rate for both Black men and women 20 years-old and over move in the opposite direction to their White counterparts, the share of Black men and women that looked for jobs and found work decreased from January to February.
Before his inauguration in January, President Donald Trump often questioned the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report, but when the latest report was released on March 10, White House officials expressed their enthusiasm about the results.
During the press briefing after February’s jobs report was released, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked if President Trump believed that February’s jobs report was accurate. Spicer answered, “[President Trump] said to quote him very clearly, ‘They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”Laughter was heard audibly in the White House Press Briefing Room.
Even as the White House appeared to be claiming another victory on the jobs front, Ben White, the chief economic correspondent for POLITICO and a CNBC contributor noted that February’s big jobs number was very similar to 2016 and 2015. “Hard to see any Trump bump in these numbers. Nearly identical to last two Febs. Feb. 2015: 238K Feb 2016: 237K Feb. 2017: 235K,” White tweeted. Others said that February’s jobs report was just a continuation of President Obama’s policies.
In a statement about the latest jobs report, Michael Madowitz, an economist for the Center for American Progress, said that the current Labor market trends originating in the Obama years continued this month, with 235,000 jobs added and the unemployment rate decreasing slightly to 4.7 percent.
“Since the employment recovery began in February 2010, we’ve added nearly 16 million jobs, and the steady tightening of the labor market has finally started to deliver wage growth for workers, increasing 2.8 percent over the past year,” Madowitz said in the statement. “These statistics show that the economy has continued to build on the foundation and success of the past few years and tell the story of the economy far more accurately than the Trump administration’s focus on the 30 large companies in the Dow.”
Madowitz continued: “In his first 49 days in office, President Donald Trump has discussed loosening oversight in financial markets, which may force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to prevent financial bubbles. Rolling back protections, updating overtime standards, and endangering Americans’ retirement savings have delighted Trump’s Wall Street and corporate base but are cold comfort for the American worker.”
In a statement about the February’s jobs report, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said that President Trump inherited a growing economy from his predecessor. “President Trump claimed he was handed ‘a mess’ by the Obama Administration, but we know that is not accurate,” said Scott. “Under President Obama the unemployment rate was cut in half while GDP and median income rose.”
Scott quickly pivoted to the embattled Affordable Care Act (ACA), adding that the Republican bill to repeal and replace the ACA would cause millions to lose their insurance, force families to pay more for fewer protections, defund Planned Parenthood, and give huge tax cuts to people in the top 1 percent.
Scott concluded: “[The Republicans] have gambled with families’ health care as they continue to undermine the Affordable Care Act and the insurance Marketplaces. They have put forward policy ideas that would weaken consumer protections and increase costs for families under ‘Trumpcare.’ Working families deserve better. Congressional Republicans and President Trump must change their course and actually begin working on solutions to build an economy that benefits all of America’s working families.”

Obamacare repeal will increase the number of uninsured by 24 million by 2026, CBO says

             By: Erin Kelly , USA TODAY

 

 

 

WASHINGTON — A Republican bill to replace Obamacare would lead to 14 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2018 and 24 million fewer by 2026, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said Monday in an analysis that could make the controversial legislation even tougher for GOP leaders to push through Congress.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the projections of uninsured were too high and called them “just not believable.”

Most of the initial increase in uninsured people in 2018 would come from consumers deciding not to buy insurance because they would no longer have to pay a penalty for failing to do so, the CBO said in an analysis done with the Joint Committee on Taxation. However, others would stop buying insurance because premiums will go up over the next two years, the report said.

The bill is expected to raise the average premiums that Americans would have to pay before 2020, and then lower them after that, the CBO projected. In 2018 and 2019, the average premiums for single policyholders who do not get insurance from their employers would be 15% to 20% higher than under Obamacare, the analysis said. Starting in 2020, those premiums would begin to go down. By 2026, average premiums would be roughly 10% lower than under the existing Affordable Care Act, the CBO projected.

However, younger Americans would benefit more than older ones. The GOP bill would allow insurers to charge five times more for older patients than younger ones — rather than three times more as allowed under Obamacare, the report said. The effect, the report said, would be “substantially reducing premiums for young adults and substantially raising premiums for older people.”

“If ever there was a war on seniors, Trumpcare — this bill — is it,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.

The number of uninsured Americans would rise dramatically during that same period as the Republican replacement plan phases out Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, the CBO said.

“In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law,” the analysis said.

The Republican bill would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period, according to the CBO. The biggest savings would come from reductions in outlays for Medicaid and from the elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for low-income Americans to buy insurance.

Administration officials said the CBO overestimated the number of people who would lose insurance and did not take into account future phases of the Republican proposal. However, unlike the current GOP bill under consideration, any subsequent legislation would have to attract support from Democratic senators, who are unlikely to provide it.

One of the subsequent steps that Republicans are pushing is for Price to use his administrative power to reduce regulations to inspire more insurance companies to participate, which Price said would give consumers more choices at competitive costs. “They’re going to be able to buy a coverage policy that they want,” Price said.

The CBO report came as Republican leaders in Congress were already scrambling to keep their fractious caucus together on the bill. Some conservatives have denounced the plan as “Obamacare lite,” arguing that it does not go far enough in scrapping the Affordable Care Act and creates new entitlements by replacing the current law’s federal subsidies for low-income people with tax credits. At the same time, some moderate Republicans in the Senate fear their low-income constituents and seniors in nursing homes will lose coverage because the legislation phases out the expansion of Medicaid that Obamacare helped fund in many states.

Democrats, who were already fiercely opposed to the legislation, said the CBO score underscores that President Trump was wrong when he promised “insurance for everybody” under the GOP plan.

“The CBO score shows just how empty the president’s promises, that everyone will be covered and costs will go down, have been,” Schumer said. “This should be a looming stop sign for the Republicans’ repeal effort.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is leading the push for the bill, saying it is the best hope that Republicans have of ending Obamacare and passing a replacement bill under a fast-track budget procedure that cannot be blocked by Senate Democrats.

“This report confirms that the American Health Care Act will lower premiums and improve access to quality, affordable care,” Ryan said. “CBO also finds that this legislation will provide massive tax relief, dramatically reduce the deficit, and make the most fundamental entitlement reform in more than a generation. These are things we are achieving in just the first of a three-pronged approach.”

 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Ryan is wrong when he says Republicans want to kill Obamacare as “an act of mercy” because it is in a death spiral of rising costs and decreasing insurance choices for consumers. She said that 24 million more uninsured Americans by 2026 is “a remarkable figure” that underscores the need for GOP leaders to scrap their bill. “It speaks remarkably to the cruelty of a bill that the Speaker calls an act of mercy,” she told reporters Monday. “In terms of insurance coverage, it’s immoral.”

The Congressional Budget Office, which was created by Congress in 1974, is a non-partisan group of economists and analysts that produces hundreds of cost estimates for Congress on proposed legislation each year. The office has a reputation for being impartial and its cost estimates — or “scores” — of bills are taken seriously by lawmakers as they decide whether to support legislation.

Republican leaders unveiled the American Health Care Act last week, and it has already been approved by the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It is scheduled to be taken up by the House Budget Committee on Wednesday, unless an expected snowstorm forces the Capitol to close. The bill will then go to the House Rules Committee, followed by a vote on the House floor as soon as next week. If the House passes the bill, it will be sent to the Senate for approval.

The GOP bill would no longer require Americans to buy health insurance. It also would replace direct federal subsidies with tax credits to help low-income people buy insurance, phase out the expansion of Medicaid, and allow insurance companies to charge older Americans more for their coverage. It increases the amount of money people can contribute to Health Savings Accounts, which are tax-exempt accounts that can be used to pay medical expenses.

Contributing: David Jackson

Rep. Sewell Statement on GOP Health Bill

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Washington, D.C. – On Monday, Republicans in Congress released legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act. The GOP health bill would make large cuts to Medicaid, destabilize Medicare by reducing funding for the Medicare Trust Fund, and increase health costs for working and low-income families. Estimates suggest that 357,000 Alabamians are at risk of losing their coverage if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed.
“For my constituents, access to affordable healthcare is a life or death issue,” said Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL). “After seven years of calling for the Affordable Care Act’s repeal, it is unconscionable that the best Republican leadership has to offer is a plan that cuts Medicaid, destabilizes Medicare, and takes insurance away from millions of hardworking Americans. In fact, estimates suggest that 357,000 Alabamians are at risk of losing their coverage if we repeal the ACA. Our access to care is a fundamental right, not a privilege. Protecting care for seniors, disabled Americans, and working and low-income families goes to the heart of who we are as a country. We cannot settle for a health plan that leaves millions of Americans without the coverage they need.”
Studies show that the GOP health plan would increase costs for the average enrollee by $1,542 if the bill were in effect today. At the same time, the proposed bill eliminates requirements for insurance companies to cover preventative care, and makes it possible for insurers to discriminate against seniors. By cutting Medicaid and reducing health assistance to low-income families, the health bill would reduce revenue for rural hospitals nationwide, 700 of which have been labeled as financially at risk.
Patients across Alabama’s 7th District would lose assistance under the GOP health plan. In Jefferson County, residents’ health coverage tax credits will be 33% lower than they were under the ACA.
Despite concerns raised by both Republicans and Democrats, House Republicans plan to move forward with consideration of the health bill in the Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, March 8. Rep. Sewell is a member of the Ways and Means Committee and will participate in tomorrow’s markup of the GOP health bill.

How a repeal of the Affordable Care Act will affect Blacks

By Glenn Ellis, Health columnist

acasigning President Barack Obama, Vice President Biden, members of Congress and guests before the signing of the ACA on March 23, 2010. PHOTO: The White House

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Racism has historically had a significant, negative impact on the health care of Blacks and other people of color in the United States. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is truly the first time that African-Americans have, collectively, had significant access to health care. It is noteworthy that America’s first African-American president is chiefly responsible for this access.

Improved access to care; Medicaid expansion; prevention medicine; and lifting of barriers for pre-existing conditions, are all aspects of the ACA that have been of great benefit to Blacks. But there is a thick air of uncertainty on the horizon.

In a few weeks, Donald John Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. It is unclear how quickly, or when, Trump’s vow to repeal and replace Obamacare will play out. But make no mistake, just like the adage, “when white folks catch a cold, black folks get pneumonia!”, a repeal of the ACA would disproportionately hurt blacks.

Republicans in Congress have put out their plans: to repeal most of the ACA without replacing it; doubling the number of uninsured people – from roughly 29 million to 59 million – and leave the nation with an even higher uninsured rate than before the ACA.

Let me point out a few ways that Blacks have, specifically, benefitted from the ACA, what many now call “Obamacare”. Given the low incomes of uninsured Blacks, nearly all (94 percent) are in the income range to qualify for the Medicaid expansion or premium tax credits. Nearly two thirds (62 percent) of uninsured Blacks have incomes at or below the Medicaid expansion limit, while an additional 31 percent are income-eligible for tax subsidies to help cover the cost of buying health insurance through the exchange marketplaces. Under the new law, insurance companies are banned from denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition, such as cancer and having been pregnant.

Importantly, for people living with HIV there also new protections in the law that make access to health coverage more equitable including the expansion of Medicaid and in the private market, prohibition on rate setting tied to health status, elimination of preexisting condition exclusions, and an end to lifetime and annual caps. The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March 2010 provided new opportunities for expanding health care access, prevention, and treatment services for millions of people in the U.S., including many people with, or at risk for, HIV.

Safety net hospitals play a critical role in the nation’s health care system by serving low-income, uninsured and medically and socially vulnerable patients regardless of their ability to pay. Also, in agreeing to lower payments, hospitals in the 31 states that expanded Medicaid under the law, have made up that revenue in part through the Medicaid expansion.

These places are critical to the health of Black communities, and in the poorest neighborhoods. They have been among the loudest voices against repeal of the health law, as they could lose billions if the 20 million people lose the insurance they gained under the law. This could bring about widespread layoffs, cuts in outpatient care and services for the mentally ill, and even hospital closings.

Under the ACA, these hospitals have received subsidies (or credits) to provide care based on a patients’ income levels. Should this change, community hospitals may have more difficulty weathering the storm of an increase in the number of uninsured.

Admittedly, there are some real problems with the ACA as we have come to know it; not the least being steady increases in premiums (midrange plans increased 22 percent nationally in 2016, with the average premium set to rise 25 percent in 2017); nearly 70 percent of all ACA plan provider networks are narrower than promised; and the high-deductibles and co-pays. Perhaps the most universal complaint is the “individual mandate”, that requires everyone in the United States to have insurance, or face a financial penalty.

Republicans are dead set on repealing the Affordable Care Act. Congress will likely pass significant modifications to the Affordable Care Act this month, which will be signed by incoming President Trump. The plans they have proposed so far would leave millions of people without insurance and make it harder for sicker, older Americans to access coverage. No version of a Republican plan would keep the Medicaid expansion as Obamacare envisions it.

Donald Trump’s presidency absolutely puts the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in jeopardy. A full repeal is unlikely, but major changes through the budget reconciliation process (which cannot be filibustered) are nearly certain.

But let me be clear; changes are needed in the ACA, but the idea of dismantling it remains a troubling prospect for Blacks.