Tax Reform Bill: How to Contact AR Senators


Watch the video above to get all of the contact information to get contact information and tips.

Other helpful links:

https://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=567758536&mediaId=567762951

Are you thankful for Medicaid?

Author: Lainey Morrow, Medicaid Saves Lives’ Founder

It’s customary this time of year to count our blessings, and there’s one in particular that millions of Americans shouldn’t forget: Medicaid. 

If you’re a recipient (or know a recipient), think for a second what your life would be like without Medicaid.

My little girl qualifies for TEFRA because of her diagnosis, and she’s thriving because Medicaid gives her treatments like therapy and medicines that we simply can’t afford. Medicaid not only helps her day-to-day, but it’s also giving her a future where she may someday be able to live on her own and provide for herself. Because of Medicaid, she can climb stairs, say that she wants a drink, draw a line, feed herself with a spoon, and sit quietly with other students around a table. When I think of life without Medicaid, I see many who would be crushed under personal debt and suffering without hope.

If you’re thankful for Medicaid, please tell those who make our state and national policies, especially if you need to continue receiving it.

This is the perfect time of year to let our lawmakers know that we’re thankful for Medicaid. Why? Because it’s improving and even saving lives! I ask you to take a moment, and write your elected officials a note. Even better, include a photo. Tell them why Medicaid is important to you. If writing several is overwhelming, just start with one. 

You can also post on social media about why Medicaid is important to you using the hashtag #thankful4Medicaid to help others see why Medicaid is so important.

We need to tell everyone the great things that Medicaid does and who it helps. People need to hear this positive message. By sending notes, calling, and posting on social media, we are clearly communicating that we still need Medicaid, and we’re directly asking the people in charge to continue funding Medicaid for us.

Let’s flood our government with letters and calls this holiday season!

Arkansas Only

Contact any elected official in the US!

Understanding the House Tax Bill

Taxes affect our daily lives, and the House is working on a bill to “reform the tax code.” If taxes are drastically altered, it won’t just affect our personal taxes; Medicaid funding could be affected as well. For example, Senator Cotton called for the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate through tax reform. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of what’s happening.

A House committee released the bill, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” this afternoon, and it’s a very long read. 

This is just a first version. They will revise the bill and try to pass it through the House by Thanksgiving to send to the Senate in order for it to take affect by January 1, 2018. 

Take the time to try to understand it and respond if necessary. Here are a few articles to help you understand what’s going on:

Make sure you understand this for yourself, and contact your U.S. Senators with your questions, concerns, and comments!

    Public Comment Help – PASSE Model Phase I

    DHS has released a manual/rule change for public comment until August 11, 2017. After that, you will not be able to get your comments on the record. In addition, they are hosting a public hearing on August 8.


    You should read the manual for yourself to make sure you cover everything that concerns you. However, even if you read it, you might still wonder what to say. The comments below are an example of what one person plans to send in.

    Use the form below. By choosing “Submit,” you will send an email directly to the appropriate DHS representative. Enter your information, and type your comments into the text box. You may copy/paste the comments listed at bottom into the comment section of the form, but don’t do so unless you have read it first and agree with it all. The following comments are just examples of one person’s opinions. Public comments are most effective when you make them more personal to you!


    EXAMPLE | EXAMPLE | EXAMPLE | EXAMPLE | EXAMPLE | EXAMPLE | EXAMPLE

    This is my public comment regarding PASSE-New-17up.doc:

    Section 211.000 – It says that the PASSEs should begin October 1, 2017. I believe that this model is not ready to begin taking on clients for several reasons. Rules like this one still have to be sent through the legislature for their approval. The Insurance Department isn’t supposed to approve the PASSEs until mid-September, which will only leave them a couple of weeks before they start managing people’s care. We don’t know what the rules will be, and we don’t know who the PASSEs will be. If the PASSEs aren’t ready and don’t do a good job, they could make mistakes. This will hurt people. I want DHS to push the date back and allow us to keep things the way they are until the PASSEs have had adequate time to review all of the finalized rules and to hire and train people who understand the rules.

    Section 214.000 – It says that people can choose another PASSE during the first 90 days and once every year. How will we know what the differences between each PASSE is? I want to pick the best PASSE, but I don’t understand all of the rules or what they all offer. (At this point, I have reason to wonder if the PASSEs themselves understand the rules, as they have not been finalized.) It also says “on the beneficiary’s annual anniversary of attribution to a PASSE.” Is this a single day to respond, or is it a week? You need to define how long that amount of time would be.

    Section 214.000 D – It says a client can move because of “poor quality of care,” but how do we prove that? That is a relative term. Who determines what kind of care is poor? I believe that the patient should determine whether care is poor and what that means in their situation.

    Section 215.000 – What if the abeyance is due to DHS/Medicaid’s fault in paperwork (and the client can prove that)? Will the coordinator help the recipient to know that their Medicaid eligibility is in dispute and help them to figure that out?

    Section 222.000 G – “The right to be provided written notice of a change in the beneficiaries care coordination” should be at least 14 days, not 7 days. If you are relying on snail mail, half of the time can be used simply in sending the notification, leaving the receiver very little time to respond or make other arrangements. Why isn’t this policy the same as 223.000 B, allowing 30 days from the time it goes into effect?

    Section 231.000 – The travel times and distances listed need to be cut in half, especially for DD and BH providers who are seen on a more frequent basis. For example, it is not in the best interest of a child or adult to have to travel an hour to and then an hour to return from a location to see a therapist multiple times per week.

    Section 241 G, 242 A, & 243.000 – DHS needs to give the PASSEs enough money to have a qualified individual available to help me whenever I need them, as many times as I may need them. Many providers seem to be concerned that the amount announced at the AR Waiver Conference (in July 2017) of $177 is not enough. I want them to get what they need so they can give me what I need. After December 31, 2018, they should have a different funding source and should not use any money from recipients’ care for administrative funding needs.

    Section 242.000 – It says in the document that care coordinators will be employees of the PASSE (241 B). However, it does not say where the care coordinators should be located. Because Arkansas is so rural, care coordinators located in the communities they serve would be most knowledgeable for their clients.

    Section 254.000 – Will DHS be required to submit the data received from PASSEs, such as data that shows savings or lack thereof, for public viewing? We want to see that data as well.

    Section 261.000 – This says that grievances must be resolved within 30 days of the filing date. What will happen in the meantime? If a person needs treatment, do they have to wait all that time to receive it?

    Section 264.000 – This description needs more definition. Who may serve on a Consumer Advisory Council? I believe that beneficiaries or direct consumers should serve, but caregivers who speak in place of beneficiaries who can’t speak for themselves should also be able to serve.

    Senate pulls All-night Session to Vote on Skinny Repeal

    The Senate is set to vote on a newly written bill, referred to as the skinny repeal, barely released an hour ago. They will vote around midnight.

    Read the full text.

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    Even Senators dislike it, but they may still vote it through.
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    Watch live as they vote:
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    Track the votes.

    Senate Voted to Proceed: Now What?

    Earlier today, the Senate voted 51-50 to proceed with debate over the health care bill. With only 2 opposing Republican votes, just 1 shy of what was needed, plus a tie-breaking vote from VP Pence, the motion succeeded. We now move toward serious Medicaid cuts that can’t be reversed once set into motion, and it will take all of us standing together to prevent it.

    Watch how each Senator voted.

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    Data shows that any bill, amendment, or revision proposed so far will be detrimental to Medicaid recipients. We (MSL) oppose the per capita caps or block grants that have been proposed because they will shift great stress to state budgets and reduce the ability to give recipients the coverage they need. We oppose ending expansion because it will result in millions losing coverage. In addition, the aforementioned bills remove essential health benefits and pre-existing condition protections, which would be detrimental to all Americans, making coverage unaffordable if not unattainable for many.

    As part of the AACF statement on how this vote will affect Arkansas, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families said: “Today’s vote shows that we have more work to do. Despite an outcry from health care professionals, business owners, families, and even governors, many Senators have decided to move forward with legislation that will destabilize the entire health care system. Too much is at risk to continue down the current path. Children with special needs, elderly enrollees, and people with chronic conditions who rely on Medicaid will lose coverage. Health care for families that were able to purchase affordable coverage, many for the first time, is also at risk.

    The people have spoken—any proposal that falls short of guaranteeing everyone affordable, comprehensive coverage, is unacceptable. Now, it’s time for Congress to listen. We ask that Senator Cotton and Senator Boozman commit to voting no on any bill that endangers the health of tens of thousands of Arkansans. Anything less is breaking their promise to all of us.”

    Now that we understand the ramifications haven’t changed, here’s what will happen next:

    1. The Senate will debate for 20 hours. By rules, to be fair, Republicans and Democrats get equal time of 10 hours each.
    2. The Senate will probably vote a bunch of times on amendments and such.
    3. Then the Senate will vote on a finalized bill and send it to the House.
    4. The House will vote, and if it passes, they’ll send it to President Trump.

    See a flow chart.

    As you can see, if you oppose Medicaid cuts, you can’t give up. Not a single Democrat voted to proceed, and we only need a few Republicans to oppose to keep any bill from moving forward. We were only one opposing vote short. Take a breath, renew your determination, and communicate in any way you possibly can!

    Contact your Senator!

    Email your Senators’ legislative aids!

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    Stand strong!

    Take Action: Graphic to Share

    The news changes like the wind. Are they voting or aren’t they? Repeal and replace or repeal without replace? No matter what’s happening with them, we need to continue to make our needs and wants abundantly clear.

    Many are saying that they can’t get through to Senators via phone calls. Don’t stop calling because they are counting the calls. 866-426-2631

    However, social media is a great way to publicly contact your Senators, especially since they won’t post their direct email addresses.

    Share this graphic with them and tag them in your posts. Use hash tags like #BCRA or #ProtectOurCare to help others see your posts!

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