Newswire : SCOTUS strikes down Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

The Supreme Court has blocked President Joe Biden’s ambitious student loan forgiveness program, which aimed to provide up to $20,000 in relief to millions of borrowers.

The decision comes as a blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to alleviate the burden of student debt on struggling individuals.
President Biden, determined to support student loan borrowers, plans to announce new actions during his upcoming address later today. The source reveals that while the White House strongly disagrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling, they had been preparing for such an outcome.
Considering the decision, the administration intends to emphasize to borrowers and their families that Republicans are responsible for denying them the much-needed relief that President Biden has been fighting to deliver.
The White House said it remains committed to its mission of easing the financial strain on Americans burdened by student loans. Democrats for Education Reform DC (DFER DC), an organization dedicated to improving education policies, issued a statement expressing disappointment in the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Jessica Giles, Executive Director of DFER DC, condemned the conservative justices for what she perceived as their alignment with Republican political interests.
Giles argued that the decision has not only disrupted the lives of over 40 million student loan borrowers but has also dealt a particularly devastating blow to Black Americans.
She asserts that the ruling will exacerbate the racial wealth gap, push numerous borrowers into financial hardship, and erode public trust in the Supreme Court.
In response to this setback, DFER DC urged Mayor Bowser and the D.C. Council to take proactive measures to expand existing programs aimed at reducing student loan debt and fixing the flaws within the higher education system.
The organization said it believes that local initiatives can help mitigate the negative impact of the Supreme Court’s decision and provide much-needed support to borrowers in the absence of federal relief.
President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, with an estimated cost of $400 billion, was designed to offer significant relief to borrowers burdened by the weight of their student loans.
However, with the program now blocked by the Supreme Court, the administration will need to explore alternative avenues to address the pressing issue of student debt in the United States.
“This Court clearly has a self-imposed mandate to legislate from the bench. They have waged war on women, unions, Black and Brown Americans, the LGBTQ+ community, religious freedom, and democracy,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement.
“In the last two days, they have set their sights on college students to either block them from getting into elite institutions or put a financial albatross around their neck so they can’t succeed.
“We applaud President Biden’s commitment to following through on this campaign pledge, because millions of Black and Brown Americans are counting on it.”

Newswire: Medicaid issues, not Medicare’s, get fixes in Biden budget;

By Associated Press
Medicaid issues are turning up as winners in President Joe Biden’s social agenda framework even as divisions force Democrats to hit pause on far-reaching improvements to Medicare.
The budget blueprint Biden released Thursday would fulfill a campaign promise to help poor people locked out of Medicaid expansion across the South due to partisan battles, and it would provide low-income seniors and disabled people with more options to stay out of nursing homes by getting support in their own homes. It also calls for 12 months of Medicaid coverage after childbirth for low-income mothers, seen as a major step to address national shortcomings in maternal health that fall disproportionately on Black women.
No Consensus on Lower Prescription Drug Prices

But with Medicare, Democrats were unable to reach consensus on prescription drug price negotiations. Polls show broad bipartisan support for authorizing Medicare to negotiate lower prices, yet a handful of Democratic lawmakers—enough to block the bill—echo pharmaceutical industry arguments that it would dampen investment that drives innovation. Advocacy groups are voicing outrage over the omission, with AARP calling it “a monumental mistake.” Some Democratic lawmakers say they haven’t given up yet.
The immediate consequence: Without expected savings from lower drug prices, Medicare dental coverage for seniors is on hold, as is vision coverage. The Biden framework does call for covering hearing aids, far less costly. Also on hold is a long-sought limit on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare recipients.
While Medicare has traditionally been politically favored, Medicaid was long regarded as the stepchild of health care programs because of its past ties to welfare. Just a few years ago, former President Donald Trump and a Republican-led Congress unsuccessfully tried to slap a funding limit on the federal-state program.
In that battle, “many people realized the importance of Medicaid for their families and their communities,” said Judy Solomon of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit that advocates for low-income people. “I think there was a new appreciation of Medicaid, and we are seeing that.”
As Medicaid grew to cover more than 80 million people, nearly 1 in 4 Americans, it became politically central for Democrats. Biden’s Medicaid-related provisions have a strong racial justice dimension, since many of the people who would benefit from access to health insurance in the South or expanded coverage for new mothers across the land are Black or Hispanic.
Expanding Medicaid has been the top policy priority for Democrats in Deep South states for years, citing the poverty and poor health that plagues much of the region. The decision by some Republican-led states to reject expansion of Medicaid under the Obama health law meant that 2 million poor people were essentially locked out of coverage in a dozen states, and another 2 million unable to afford even subsidized plans. Texas, Florida, Georgia and Alabama are among the Medicaid hold-outs.
Georgia Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff campaigned on closing the Medicaid coverage gap, and it was their election that put the Senate in Democratic hands this year. Warnock made getting a Medicaid fix his signature issue.

Back to Obamacare
“Georgians showed up in historic numbers to change the shape of our federal government, and many did so with the hope that Washington would finally close the circle on the promise of the Affordable Care Act [otherwise known as Obamacare] and make health care coverage accessible to the hundreds of thousands of Georgians who are currently uninsured,” Warnock, the state’s first Black U.S. senator, said in a statement Thursday.
Delivering a big achievement is most urgent for the freshman, as he faces reelection next year in a quest for a full six-year term. Multiple Republican opponents including former football great Herschel Walker are vying to face him. Warnock argues that it’s unfair that Georgians can’t access the federally subsidized care available to residents of 38 other states that expanded Medicaid, calling it “a matter of life and death.”
Under the Biden blueprint eligible uninsured people in states that have not expanded Medicaid could get subsidized private coverage through HealthCare.gov at no cost to them. The fix is only funded for four years, a budgetary gimmick intended to make the official cost estimates appear lower. Biden would also extend through 2025 more generous financial assistance that’s already being provided for consumers who buy “Obamacare” plans.
Another major element of Biden’s framework would allocate $150 billion through Medicaid for home- and community-based care for seniors and disabled people. That’s less than half the money Biden originally had sought for his long-term care plan, but it will help reduce waiting lists for services while also improving wages and benefits for home health aides.
The plan “marks a historic shift in how our country cares for people with disabilities and older Americans,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “Getting this crucial care won’t just be for the lucky few who can get off a wait list.”
About 4 million people receive home and community-based services, which are less expensive than nursing home care. An estimated 800,000 people are on waiting lists for such services.
The coronavirus pandemic underscored the importance of a viable home care option for elders, as nursing homes became deadly incubators for COVID-19.
In a coda of sorts, the Biden framework also provides permanent funding for Medicaid in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico. And it would permanently reauthorize the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, avoiding periodic nail-biting over coverage for nearly 10 million kids.

Newswire: Dr. Fauci supports “Shot at the Barber Shop” as part of nationwide vaccination plan

Dr. Anthony Fauci

By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he wholeheartedly supports President Joe Biden’s initiative with Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons to get more African Americans vaccinated. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director and the nation’s foremost authority on the coronavirus, Dr. Fauci, called the president’s tactic solid. In a discussion with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), Dr. Fauci added that medical and administration officials have a laser-like focus on meeting the president’s goal of having 70 percent of all adults vaccinated by Independence Day. “That’s the reason why you see what [President Biden] is doing, and all of us are doing to get people vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci asserted. “We want to make it very easy for people to get the vaccine.” President Biden declared June as a month of action and announced a “Shots at the Shop” initiative that unites 1,000 African American-owned barbershops and beauty salons in the country to serve as vaccination hubs. The initiative comes with incentives like free child-care for parents and other perks. “We want to give incentives and do whatever we can to get people to get vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci stated. He noted that the NNPA, the trade association of the hundreds of Black-owned newspaper and media companies, is a trusted voice in the nation’s African American communities. “That’s why I am speaking with you today,” Dr. Fauci insisted. “The Black Press is vital, it is trusted, and we need to get the word out and get everyone vaccinated.” To view Dr. Fauci’s entire interview with the Black Press, register today and tune into the NNPA’s annual summer convention. It is free to register at http://www.virtualnnpa2021.com. Headlined by music icon Chaka Khan, the convention begins on Wednesday, June 23.