Your questions answered on health care bill

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 12:47 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 @ 3:51 PM

Paul Ryan says his current plan to repeal and replace Obamacare involves more than the budget reconciliation bill currently up for debate.

Following criticism from organizations representing older Americans, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., modified a health care bill he backs to help people between ages 55 and 64 buy individual health insurance policies.

In a letter to Congress and a TV commercial, AARP assailed the House Republican leadership health care plan which would replace the 2010 health known signed by former President Barack Obama and known as Obamacare.

The TV commercial, called “Stop The Age Tax,” runs an unusually long time of one minutes and 18 seconds. In it, a man in his 50s chops wood and complains the GOP bill overcharges “older Americans for their health insurance.”

So is AARP, which represents 38 million people, correct? Let’s check.

RELATED: A look at the opposing sides of health care fight

How does the House Republican leadership bill change the individual market?

Under Obamacare, a family of four earning between $34,000 and $98,000 a year a year can receive subsidies to buy individual polices through the exchanges. The Republicans would scrap the subsidies and substitute a refundable tax credit ranging from $2,000 a year to $4,000 a year based on how old you are as opposed to income. A 27-year-old would be eligible for the $2,000 credit while a 60-year-old would be eligible for the $4,000 credit. When an individual earns more than $75,000 a year, the refundable tax credit is slowly phased out.

What is a refundable tax credit?

Unlike an ordinary tax credit, a refundable tax credit means an individual can receive more federal dollars as a refund than they actually paid in taxes.

How does the Republican refundable tax credit compare to the Obamacare subsidies people receive to buy individual policies in the exchanges?

Depends on your age and where you live. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a 27-year-old earning $30,000 a year in Montgomery County would receive a $2,000 tax credit under the Republican bill to buy an individual policy compared to $480 subsidy under current law. A 40-year-old would receive a $3,000 refundable tax credit compared to $1,130 under Obamacare. But a 60-year-old earning $30,000 a year would receive the $4,000 refundable tax credit under the GOP bill compared to $5,190 a year under Obamacare.

What if you earn more money?

Kaiser calculates a 27-year-old in Montgomery County earning $50,000 a year would receive a $2,000 a year tax credit under the Republican plan compared to nothing under Obamacare. A 40-year-old would receive a $3,000 tax credit compared to nothing under Obamacare. By contrast, a 60-year-old earning $50,000 annually would receive a $4,000 tax credit under the GOP bill versus a $2,570 subsidy.

What if you live in a different county?

You can use the following link to check for yourself: http://kff.org/interactive/tax-credits-under-the-affordable-care-act-vs-replacement-proposal-interactive-map/

RELATED: Gov. Kasich against GOP health care plan

Are deductibles higher under the Republican plan?

According to Kaiser, the answer is yes. Kaiser projects that the average deductible for a typical plan in the individual market would be $1,550 a year higher under the GOP bill than Obamacare — climbing from $2,550 to $4,100.

Drew Altman, president and chief executive officer of Kaiser, wrote Wednesday that “if people have modest means and limited tax credits, and coverage is expensive, they will mostly buy health plans with lower premiums — and high deductibles.”

Any other changes that could hurt someone older?

Under Obamacare, insurers cannot charge premiums to older people that are more than three times what they charge younger people. Under the House Republican plan, they can charge five times what they charge younger people.

So it appears if you are older and earn less, you do not do not do as well under the GOP plan as Obamacare?

Probably, but not definitely. Republican sponsors hope by making the refundable tax credit so generous for younger people, it will encourage younger and healthier people to buy policies through the exchanges, resulting in a drop in insurance premiums. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office last week calculated that under the GOP bill, premiums would decline by 10 percent between 2020 and 2026.

Trump calls efforts to remove Confederate monuments 'so foolish'

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 9:48 AM

WATCH: Protesters Topple Confederate Statue In North Carolina

President Donald Trump on Thursday again criticized recent decisions to remove Confederate monuments across the country, calling the moves “so foolish” and the monuments irreplaceable.

>> Read more trending news

“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” Trump wrote in the first of a series of tweets. “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it.”

He echoed comments he made at a fiery news conference in New York earlier this week, in which he wondered whether monuments remembering former presidents George Washington or Thomas Jefferson would be next to fall.

>> Related: Trump again blames ‘both sides’ for violence in Charlottesville 

“The beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” the president wrote.

His comments came amid continued criticism from across the political spectrum over his insistence that “both sides” were to blame for deadly, racially-charged violence that took place over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

>> Related: Heather Heyer's parents preach love, action after daughter's death: 'You just magnified her'

Police said 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed Saturday during a counterprotest of a rally organized by white supremacists. The rally was aimed at protesting the removal of a Confederate statue from the city’s Emancipation Park.

Authorities arrested James Alex Fields Jr., 20, on charges including second-degree murder and malicious wounding in connection with Heyer’s death. Police said he slammed a car into two stopped vehicles and rammed counterprotesters. Fields, from Ohio, participated in the rally and was described by a former high school teacher as a fan of Adolf Hitler.

Watch - President Trump Says "Blame on Both Sides, I Wait for Facts"

Push on to remove Confederate statues from U.S. Capitol

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 3:01 PM
Updated: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 3:01 PM


            Alan Cottrill, right, smiles as he stands with the 900-pound statue of Thomas Edison that Mr. Cottrill sculpted. The statue replaced one of two representing Ohio in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. The statue of William Allen, a former Ohio governor and slavery sympathizer, was removed and returned to Ohio. A competition was held to arrive at a symbol more representative of the people of Ohio. KATIE RAUSCH / THE (TOLEDO) BLADE
Alan Cottrill, right, smiles as he stands with the 900-pound statue of Thomas Edison that Mr. Cottrill sculpted. The statue replaced one of two representing Ohio in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. The statue of William Allen, a former Ohio governor and slavery sympathizer, was removed and returned to Ohio. A competition was held to arrive at a symbol more representative of the people of Ohio. KATIE RAUSCH / THE (TOLEDO) BLADE

Sen. Sherrod Brown has joined a growing number of Democrats in calling for the removal of Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol.

The Ohio Democrat plans on joining Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in supporting a bill to remove statues of Confederate politicians and soldiers from Statuary Hall.

“Symbols of the confederacy should be removed from taxpayer-funded public property and put in museums where they belong.” Brown, D-Ohio, said in a statement.

RELATED: Ohio ready for statue switch

For Ohio, the issue had already been decided. The state decided in 2010 to replace a statue of former Ohio Gov. William “Earthquake” Allen with inventor Thomas Alva Edison. Allen, the state’s governor from 1874 to 1876, never fought in the Civil War, but was an outspoken opponent of President Abraham Lincoln and was sympathetic to slavery.

State leaders gathered votes to determine who should replace Allen, and Edison beat out the likes of the Wright Brothers and Olympic athlete Jesse Owens to become one of 35 statues in Statuary Hall. Allen’s statue is now in Chillicothe.

In all, 100 statues in the Capitol Building — some are scattered in hallways or in the Capitol Visitors Center — represent the achievements of the 50 states. Edison is accompanied by former President James A. Garfield in representing Ohio.

RELATED: Edison statue packed for move to capitol building

Some of the statues have garnered additional scrutiny in the days since violent protests erupted last weekend in Charlottesville, Va., over the decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, who led Confederate troops during the Civil War. Lee is one of the statues representing Virginia; it now stands in the crypt of the U.S. Capitol.

A Washington Post analysis of statues in the Capitol found that there are 12 statues of Confederate soldiers and politicians and just four of African-Americans: Civil rights pioneers the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Lee himself appeared to discourage memorials to the war or to those involved.

“I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered,” he wrote in an 1869 letter published in a Virginia newspaper.

RELATED: Who will represent Ohio’s Statuary Hall?

Booker, D–N.J., announced late Wednesday he would introduce a bill seeking the removal of the Confederate statues. One day later, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D–Calif., echoed his call, saying the statues are “reprehensible.”

“The halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy,” she said, calling upon Speaker Paul Ryan to remove the Confederate statues “immediately.” “The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation.”

For his part, President Donald Trump defended the memorials Thursday, tweeting in part, “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”

Congressman Turner says he’s disappointed in Trump’s response to Charlottesville

Published: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 @ 7:09 PM
Updated: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 @ 7:20 PM

Turner Joins Forces With Civil Rights Leaders

With two local civil rights leaders at his side, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, Wednesday denounced racism in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville and expressed disappointment with how President Donald Trump has responded to the turmoil there.

Turner said in strong terms that there is no room for racist hatred in the Dayton community or the nation.

“We renounce racism, violence and hatred,” he said. “Our actions today may be symbolic but our dedication to our community and cultural diversity is not.”

Turner pointed to how the city responded to the Ku Klux Klan in 1994 when he was mayor and the Klan was about to hold a rally on Courthouse Square. He credited former Dayton NAACP President Jessie Gooding with coming up a plan that helped preserve the peace.

RELATED: How many hate groups are there in Ohio and where are they?

The city encouraged people to stay away from the Klan gathering and instead attend a unity rally the following day on the same spot, Turner said. When the Klan arrived, they had about a dozen supporters and were met by a few hundred counter-demonstrators. Small skirmishes broke out but there was no major violence.

At the following day’s unity rally, people poured water from the stage onto the square to signify the cleansing of the hatred left behind by the Klan.

Gooding, who marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1960s, said King today would be upset with the violence and bloodshed in Charlottesville.

“I think he would cry,” Gooding said. “I’m crying to see the clock turning back.”

Turner, who until now has largely stood quiet while others in his party criticized Trump, took the president to task for his handling of the Charlottesville violence.

“I am deeply disappointed that an issue that is so clear is so difficult for President Trump,” he said.

The president had at first issued a response to the Charlottesville violence that drew criticism for pointing the finger of blame, not just at the KKK, but also at counter-demonstrators. “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides - on many sides,” Trump said on Sunday.

Later, Trump called out the Klan and Nazi groups by name in a formal statement from the White House. But in a question and answer session with reporters in New York Tuesday, Trump again blamed both sides for what happened, sparking more outrage from critics, including some Republicans.

Turner said he would like to see some clarity and unifying leadership from the president.

“This needs to be clear for the president. You can’t pull the country together if things aren’t clear and unambiguous. Evil is evil and there’s nothing good about it. The president needs to pull the community together. He needs to have clarity about this. And certainly our community does and if the President looks out from the White House he is going to see a country that rejects racism and looks for unity and they are looking for it in their president,” Turner said.

The current NAACP president, Derrick Foward, said the counter-demonstrators last weekend were trying to protect the advances made by civil rights leaders of multiple generations. Unlike past protests of the 1960s, Foward said, the people opposing the Klan are much more diverse.

“What you are seeing today are multi-racial, multi-generational, multi-cultural activists who want to make sure the country turns a leaf, turns a corner,” Foward said.

Turner said details of how Dayton dealt with the Klan in 1994 needs to be taught in Dayton Public Schools. The message to students and the nation should be, “Look, we’ve done it,” Turner said. “We know how to deal with these forces, Dayton style. We have civil rights leaders. We know how to answer to this and we know how to speak with one voice.”

Ohio lawmakers behind effort to overhaul NAFTA

Published: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 @ 3:47 PM


            U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, shakes hands with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, accompanied by Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, after they spoke at a news conference, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, at the start of NAFTA renegotiations in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
            Jacquelyn Martin
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, shakes hands with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, accompanied by Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, after they spoke at a news conference, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, at the start of NAFTA renegotiations in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)(Jacquelyn Martin)

The nation’s top trade official vowed Wednesday to work to negotiate a major overhaul of a 23-year-old trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, saying that the North American Free Trade Agreement has “failed many, many Americans.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer made his comments on the opening day of NAFTA negotiations in Washington, D.C.

The trade agreement — which President Donald Trump vowed to overhaul during the 2016 campaign – has been a lightning rod for Ohio lawmakers, who argue that NAFTA, as it is commonly called, has hurt U.S. manufacturing jobs and done little to protect workers.

RELATED: Brown: ‘This time workers must be at the table’

“NAFTA shipped U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas and put Ohioans out of work,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, who voted against the agreement as a U.S. House member in 1993. “Renegotiation is an opportunity not only to create a better deal for Ohio workers, but to reset the way we do trade agreements. That means bringing workers to the table, securing strong anti-outsourcing provisions, and making sure we can hold our trading partners accountable if they break the rules.”

Brown, who also authored an editorial for USA Today this week on the trade agreement, released a four-point plan in May aimed at helping the Trump administration secure a deal that would protect workers. He urged Trump to prioritize provisions that would prevent outsourcing and push “Buy America;” to make sure that industry and U.S. workers are not pitted against one another in negotiations; to include workers in negotiations and to build enforcement tools that favor U.S. workers over foreign corporations.

RELATED: U.S. demands big NAFTA changes

He is not the only Democrat anxious to offer input. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, said this week that he has watched as people in places like Warren, Ohio, in his district, watched their factories close only to move over the border to Mexico.

“We are working off a model that was created in the early 1990s,” he said. “There were barely websites. At that point in the early 1990s, the internet was in its infancy. So many changes have happened since NAFTA was written.”

Ryan said he is hoping for a structure that “takes into consideration” the things that have changed, be it climate change, displacement of workers “and the lack of and inability of some communities to recover what they’ve lost.”

Not everyone is a NAFTA foe. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal both offered glowing praise for the deal, with Villarreal stating that it “has been a strong success for all parties.”

RELATED: Trump wants new NAFTA deal to cut trade deficit with Mexico

A U.S. Chamber of Commerce report issued on the 20th anniversary of NAFTA concluded that U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico skyrocketed in the years after the agreement, with Mexico and Canada buying about one-third of U.S. merchandise exports. That report found that trade with Canada and Mexico supports nearly 14 million U.S. jobs, and concluded that 187,968 jobs in Ohio supported by trade with Canada and Mexico are directly attributable to the trade deal.

Those numbers lie in stark contrast to those of Global Trade Watch, a non-profit advocacy organization that has been a critic of the 1993 agreement. In a fact sheet issued earlier this year, the organization found that as of December 2016, the U.S. lost more than 900,000 jobs because of NAFTA.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who backed the agreement as a House member in 1993, argued earlier this year that it was due to be modernized and updated. He said he hoped the final agreement would “expand access to American-made products and strengthen trade enforcement to protect against unfair imports — all of which will create more jobs, boost wages, help our farmers, and improve American manufacturing.”

Lighthizer, meanwhile, said the reworked agreement must address digital trade, service trade, update customs procedures and protect intellectual property. He did say the agreement has been good for U.S. agriculture, making it easier for farmers to send their products overseas.

“The views of the president about NAFTA — which I completely share — are well known, Lighthizer said Wednesday. “I want to be clear that he is not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions, and a couple of updated chapters.”

Lighthizer said at least 700,000 Americans have lost their jobs because of NAFTA.

During his 2016 bid for the White House, Trump called NAFTA “the worst trade deal ever made” and “a total and complete disaster” and threatened to pull out of the agreement. But he later agreed to renegotiate and Lighthizer made no mention of Trump’s threats to leave the agreement on Wednesday.

Negotiators will work through this weekend in Washington on a renegotiated pact. They’ll meet in September in Mexico City, meeting after that in Canada.