This week, the Department of Homeland Security finalized changes to the public charge rule that will make it much more difficult for immigrants from low-income backgrounds to gain permanent residency status in the US. Under this proposed rule change, immigration officials will weigh applicants' use of benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, housing assistance, and Medicaid; income and financial status (under 125% of the federal poverty level will count as a negative factor, over 250% of the federal poverty level as a positive factor); age (being under the age of 18 or over the age of 61 will be counted negatively); education; and health status, with medical conditions deemed likely to require extensive treatment or institutional care, or to interfere with the immigrant’s ability to earn an income counting against the applicant. The rule change is currently scheduled to go into effect on October 15. So far, 13 states and two California counties have sued to block this rule change from going into effect.
August 2, 2019
A proposed rule change from the Department of Housing and Urban Development would make it much more difficult to bring discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act by rolling back the Obama-era "disparate impact" rule.
This week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released a bill—America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019—to authorize $287 billion over five years for surface transportation projects. This bill includes funding for active transportation initiatives like Safe Routes to School and Complete Streets, public transit, and other transportation planning projects.
July 26, 2019
The USDA proposed changing the way states determine eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which could result in millions of people losing food assistance. Currently, states can waive income and asset limits and offer food assistance to households with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level, if those households face other expenses—like child care or rent—that leave them with too little money to buy food. Under the proposed rule change, a household’s gross income could not exceed 130% of the federal poverty level, regardless of other expenses a household needs to cover. The rule change would also eliminate food assistance for seniors and people with disabilities if their savings or assets exceed $3,500.
July 12th, 2019
President Trump announced on Thursday that the 2020 census will not include a citizenship question, and that the Commerce Department would be instructed to collect citizenship data by other means.
A lawsuit brought by 18 state attorneys general challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, Texas v. Azar, was heard by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals this week, after a 2018 ruling by a district court judge found the law unconstitutional on the grounds that the penalty associated with the individual mandate had been revoked.
June 28th 2019
This week, Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut and Representative Matsui of California introduced legislation to restore the Prevention and Public Health Fund to its original funding level of $2 billion per year.
The Senate HELP Committee approved the Lower Health Care Costs Act and sent the bill to the Senate floor. This bill would address surprise medical bills, increase cost transparency in the healthcare industry and drug supply chain, and raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21.
June 21st 2019
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing on reparations for slavery and other forms of discrimination against African-Americans this week, featuring testimony from academics, advocates, and journalists.
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas increased the uninsured rate and sowed confusion among Medicaid recipients, but did not boost employment, as proponents of work requirements claimed.
This week, the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would create a path to citizenship for more than two million undocumented immigrants, including the Dreamers.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement announced that it will be canceling English-language classes, recreational opportunities, and legal assistance for unaccompanied children held in many federal migrant shelters, with Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber citing financial pressure and describing these activities as “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation.”
President Trump signed a memorandum calling on government agencies to enforce a 23-year-old law that requires US citizen sponsors of green-card holders to reimburse the government for welfare benefits.
Yesterday, the California State Assembly passed AB656, which would create a statewide Office of Healthy and Safe Communities.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development posted a proposed rule in the Federal Register on Friday, May 10, that would force mixed-status families to choose between continuing to receive housing assistance or live in public housing and continuing to live with family members who are not eligible for housing assistance.
A proposed rule change from the Office of Management and Budget would count fewer people as living below the official federal poverty line and thus disqualify millions of people living in poverty from accessing safety-net programs like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and housing assistance, among other social programs.
The House Appropriations Committee approved FY 2020 plan to fund Labor and Health and Human Services, funding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at $514 million (a $25 million increase over FY 2019 funding).
House Democrats requested more information on the Justice Department’s refusal to defend the Affordable Care Act against a legal challenge that threatens to invalidate the law as a whole.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and 14 Democratic co-sponsors introduced the fifth iteration of his Medicare for All proposal to implement single-payer healthcare in the US. Under the proposal, hospital visits, primary care, medical devices, lab services, maternity care, vision care, dental care, and prescription drugs would be covered for all US residents without a co-pay. This version also includes long-term care support for people with disabilities.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development chargedFacebook with violating the Fair Housing Act for allowing advertisers on their platform to screen viewers based on race, sex, religion, age, family status, disability, and neighborhood.
A federal judge blocked Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky, arguing that the Department of Health and Human Services' approval of work requirements failed to "consider adequately" the objective of Medicaid: to provide access to medical care.
On Monday, the Department of Justice issued a letter to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that the ruling of a Texas district court judge invalidating the Affordable Care Act as a whole should be upheld. This reverses the previous position by the Administration that only certain elements of the ACA should be struck down under the Texas ruling.
The White House released its 2020 budget proposal, including a $750.5 million cut to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget (more details here). That includes $236.5 million cut for programs under Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (including the elimination of the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program), $146.3 million cut to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and a $52.4 million cut to Environmental Health programs including Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, and $19.7 million in cuts to injury prevention programs. The President’s budget does include the Prevention and Public Health Fund at $893 million. As in past years the Budget proposes an overarching block grant approach for chronic disease as part of the America’s Health Block Grant.
Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin, and the Sackler family will pay $270 million to the state of Oklahoma to settle a lawsuit over Purdue’s role in the opioid crisis. Other opioid manufacturers have yet to settle with Oklahoma, and other litigation targeting Purdue Pharma and other pharmaceutical companies is moving forward.
The House voted this week to approve two gun-safety bills that would require background checks on all firearm sales, including private sales, online sales, and gun-show purchases, and extend the review period for background checks on firearm purchases
This week, the Senate confirmed Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
A National Academy of Sciences panel reported back with its findings on the costs of child poverty in the US and four pathways to reducing child poverty over the next 10 years. One proposal would increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and make the Child Care Tax Credit fully refundable (these two measures are part of all four proposals), as well as raising the minimum wage and expanding job-training programs. A second proposal would provide a $2,000 per year child allowance to all children under age 17 – a proposal that is projected to decrease child poverty by one-third in 10 years. A third proposal would increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits by 35% and increase access to Section 8 housing vouchers, which is projected to cut child poverty in half. The final proposal involves a bigger increase to the EITC than the other three proposals, raises the minimum wage to $10.25/hour, expands anti-poverty programs to documented immigrants who are currently not eligible, and includes a child allowance of $2,700/year, with an additional $1,200/year child support payment for single parents. The most expensive of these proposals tops out at $111.6 billion/year, far less than the estimated $1.1 trillion/year costs associated with child poverty.
The Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule that would bar organizations that provide abortions or refer patients for abortions from participating in Title X, a $286 million federal family planning program.
This week, Congress approved and President Trump signed a $333 billion spending package to fund the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, Justice, State, and Homeland Security through September 30. This spending deal fell short of President Trump's demands for border wall funding, leading him to declare a national emergency at the US southern border to secure funding.
The Supreme Court agreed to expedite and hear the case of whether the Trump administration may add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
The Trump administration's 2020 budget proposal is expected to be released by mid-March, after being delayed by the partial government shutdown.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey sponsored a resolution this week -- backed by 60 House Democrats and nine Senate Democrats -- outlining the principles of a Green New Deal, a 10-year plan to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
During his State of the Union address this week, President Trump called for action on opioids, new research on childhood cancer treatments, and the eradication of HIV transmission in the US by 2030, promising that his administration's 2020 budget proposal would call for increased resources to address HIV.
Federal employees are back at work today, after a five-week partial government shutdown ended with a temporary agreement to fund the government on Friday.
The partial government shutdown passed the four-week mark on Friday, January 18. Native American tribes are experiencing sharp cutbacks to health services, education, housing, child welfare, maintenance of tribal lands, and economic development. Domestic violence shelters across the country are cutting services for survivors because they can’t access the funding they would normally receive from the Department of Justice. Over 800,000 federal workers are going without pay and are being forced to make difficult choices to cover their basic needs, unsure when they will receive their next paychecks. Routine food safety inspections have been cut back. Hundreds of inspections of water systems, chemical factories, power plants, oil refineries, and other industrial sites have been cancelled. More than 40,000 immigrants, many of whom have been waiting years to have their cases heard in immigration court, have had their hearings cancelled. More than 2,500 food retailers (and counting) are no longer able to accept food assistance benefits because their licenses were not renewed before the government shutdown. As government housing contracts expire, hundreds of thousands of tenants of low income are at risk of eviction. Other impacts range from delayed disaster relief to interrupted data collection on climate change and other health issues.
Week of January 5th - January 11th
California Governor Gavin Newsom introduced his first budget proposal this week, calling for increased investments in early childhood care and learning (including $750 million for all-day Kindergarten and a proposal to expand universal preschool to all low-income California children), healthcare (expansion of Medi-Cal eligibility and benefits, a proposal to create a single-payer system for prescription drugs), education, poverty (including doubling a tax credit available to low-income families), homelessness, expanded paid family leave, water safety, and other issues.
The partial shutdown of the federal government reached 21 days on Friday, affecting food programs, healthcare, and other services for Native American tribes; the National Park System; the Environmental Protection Agency, with has cut back on investigating environmental hazards; the Food and Drug Administration, which has ceased routine food-safety investigations; the National Transportation Safety Board; immigration caseloads; and more, with furloughed federal workers missing their first paycheck.
Week of December 29th - January 4th
The 116th Congress was sworn in this week, and Nancy Pelosi was elected as House Speaker. The freshman class in the US House of Representatives includes the largest number of women ever elected to Congress and a diverse cohort of new representatives, including the first two Native American women, the first two Muslim-American women, the first Korean-American woman ever to be elected to the US Congress, the first Latina representatives from the state of Texas, and the youngest women ever elected to Congress.
The government has been partially shut down for 14 days because of a dispute over the Administration’srequest for $5 billion in funding for a wall along the US-Mexico border. The Environmental Protection Agency ran out of funding this week, limiting the agency’s capacity to uphold clean water standards and regulate pesticides. Indian Health Service clinics that provide direct healthcare services to tribal communities remain open, but employees are going without pay, and tribal health programs and preventive health clinics have been suspended. The US House voted Thursday night on two bills to reopen the federal government, but these are not expected to be taken up by the Senate.
Sixteen Democratic-led states and the District of Columbia appealed a federal judge’s ruling to strike down the Affordable Care Act, arguing that the judge ignored Congress’ “clear intent” when he ruled that the elimination of the individual mandate penalty in 2017 invalidated the law as a whole.
The Senate confirmed Jim Carroll to serve as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the first permanent head of this office under the current administration.
Week of December 22nd - 28th
The partial government shutdown enters its second week, with negotiation and action to reopen the government likely on hold until the next Congress convenes in January.
A second migrant child died in federal custody on Christmas Day, after the eight-year-old boy and his father were detained by US Customs and Border Control, transferred between various checkpoints and facilities not designed to safely house children, and held in detention for twice the amount of time the recommended for children. Felipe Alonzo Gomez was the second migrant child to die in the past month, after the death ofJakelin Caal Maquin, age 7. In response, the Department of Homeland Security has expanded health screenings of detained children, particularly young children under the age of 10.
A proposed plan would weaken the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to restrict hazardous pollutants emitted by coal-fired power plants by changing the way the EPA assesses the benefits of restricting pollutants to give less consideration to public health.
Week of December 16th - 21st
A federal judge struck down the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional on the grounds that the elimination of the individual mandate as part of last year's tax reform package invalidates the law as a whole. The case was brought by 20 Republican governors and attorneys general. The Affordable Care Act remains in place as legal challenges proceed.
With funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, Justice, State, and Homeland Security set to run out on December 21, the potential for a partial government shutdown over the administration's demands for $5 billion in border wall funding looms.
Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that his department will propose changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that could result in 755,000 people losing access to nutrition benefits. The proposed rule would limit the ability of states to waive work requirements for so-called “able-bodied adults without dependents” between the ages of 18 and 49, requiring that waivers could only be used where the county-level unemployment rate exceeded seven percent.
Week of December 9th - 15th
The US Senate and House passed a bipartisan Farm Bill this week, which President Trump is expected to sign next week. The current legislation does not include the strict work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients and the rollbacks of pesticide regulations that were included in earlier House versions of the bill.
The House and Senate have passed the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act that would fund state committees to investigate maternal deaths, with the goal of reducing maternal mortality, especially among women of color.
Click here to read PI's weekly media digest for the week of December 9th - 15th
Ask your senators to support universal background checks for gun purchases:The Giffords Center and American Public Health Association are generating thousands of calls and emails to US senators in support of universal background checks, because after years of inaction it looks like there’s a chance that the Senate may finally vote on a background check bill.
Support HR 3222, a bill that would deny federal funding to implement changes to the "public charge" rule. Learn more here.
USDA proposal threatens to strip food assistance from millions of people
The proposed rule change would alter the way states determine eligibility for SNAP and free school meals. Currently, 40 states and the District of Columbia waive income and asset limits and offer food assistance to households with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level, if those households face other expenses—like child care or rent—that leave them with too little money to buy adequate food. Under the proposed rule change, a household’s gross income could not exceed 130% of the federal poverty level, regardless of other expenses a household needs to cover. The rule change would also eliminate food assistance for seniors and people with disabilities if their savings or assets exceed $3,500. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warns that, by eliminating food assistance for households with modest savings, the rule change would make it harder for people to “avert a financial crisis or weather an emergency that would otherwise push them deeper into poverty or could lead to homelessness.”
What can I do?
Submit public comments to the Department of Agriculture opposing this rule change. The public comment period is open until September 23.
The Prevention Rapid Response Network offers subscribers the latest prevention policy news, updates, tools, and advocacy opportunities in support of prevention and public health efforts in communities and across the country.
Prevention Institute signed on to an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court, concerning potential inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census and the risk of undercounting -- and thus under-representing and under-resourcing -- immigrant and Latino communities.
November 9, 2018
PI submitted a public comment letter opposing proposed changes to the public charge rule. Read the letter here.
June 21st 2018
PI's joint letter with TFAH, APHA, NACCHO, PHI, and ASPPH urges the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to reunite the families who have been separated during the "zero tolerance" policy and provide the necessary health and mental health services to mitigate any long-term effects of adverse childhood experiences that children of these families may have experienced due to separation.
April 20th 2018
In support of the youth-led movement challenge to the status quo on guns, and renewed calls for action to address gun violence, Prevention Institute released an updated list of recommendations to prevent multiple forms of gun violence.
PI’s action alert applauds Senator Collins and Senator John McCain for speaking out against the Graham-Cassidy bill and the process that produced it.
PI and the leadership from the American Public Health Association, Public Health Institute, and Trust for America’s Health released a joint statement and call to action denouncing the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill.
PI issues a call to thank Senator John McCain for standing up for an open, transparent, bipartisan path forward on healthcare