► From KING 5 — McMorris Rodgers confident health care bill will pass House — The GOP health care replacement bill could head to the House floor as early as next week, but does it have the votes to pass? Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the No. 4 ranking Republican in the U.S. House, tells KING 5 the health care bill has the votes.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Reichert defends GOP health-care bill following report that millions would go uninsured — Last month, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert said, “No one is gonna lose coverage. Let me just make that clear again. No one will lose coverage.” Now, after remaining silent about the CBO report that estimates 24 million fewer people would be insured under the plan, Reichert’s office released a statement late Wednesday afternoon defending the proposal: “It is assumed… that when individuals and families are no longer forced to sign up for insurance fewer will choose to do so.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Perhaps as soon as next week, all four of Washington’s congressional Republicans are poised to vote for Trumpcare, which gives massive tax cuts to the wealthy by stripping $880 billion from Medicaid. (None of them are listed among the Republicans who are either opposed or undecided/unclear in The Hill’s whip list.) Their statements echo Paul Ryan’s rhetoric about the newly uninsured simply being people exercising their “freedom” to go without health insurance.
But the CBO analysis predicts that millions will go without insurance because they can no longer afford it without ACA subsidies or Medicaid. Millions will return to the pre-ACA days where, lacking insurance, they can’t afford to seek timely medical treatment or preventive care until they end up in the emergency room. These “uncompensated” hospital costs will be socialized — passed on to everyone else — driving insurance costs higher and higher. Trumpcare is about the “freedom” to go into medical bankruptcy and/or die prematurely.
ALSO at The Stand — Join candlelight vigils Saturday to reject Republican health plan — Vigils begin at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 18 in Issaquah, Spokane, Vancouver, Wenatchee, and Yakima.
► In today’s Seattle Times — 700,000 Washingtonians would be uninsured under GOP health plan, Inslee says — Inslee and Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said 700,000 Washingtonians would not be insured under the proposed GOP health plan unless the state came up with more than $2.5 billion a year.
► From AFL-CIO Now — 9 ways Trumpcare would make health coverage in America unaffordable, out of reach — For more than a century, working people in their unions have fought to make health care a right for every American. The Republican plan contradicts this very idea by making care less affordable and less accessible. It’s bad for our health care, it’s bad for working families, and we fully oppose it. Here’s why…
► A Special Report in today’s Spokesman-Review — GOP’s health reform plan threatens Medicare — Little noticed in the Republican proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is a tax cut that would benefit the wealthy and undercut funding for Medicare, on which 55 million senior and disabled Americans depend for their health care… Medicare’s financial solvency hinges on the payroll tax that all working Americans pay. In 2009 when Congress was debating the ACA, Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund was forecasted to become insolvent in 2017. To prevent this insolvency, the ACA increased the Medicare payroll tax rate by 0.9 percent, applying the increase only to taxpayers with income exceeding $200,000 for an individual or $250,000 for a couple. Thanks to this tax increase, Medicare’s trustees predicted the fund would remain solvent for another decade, until 2029. But on page 88 of the Republicans’ American Health Care Act is a little-noted section titled “Repeal of Medicare Tax Increase.” This section would remove the ACA’s 0.9-percent increase in the Medicare payroll tax.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hanford contractors plan to cut up to 300 jobs — The central Hanford contractor, CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., told employees Wednesday that it was preparing to cut up to 250 jobs as some key work at the nuclear reservation is completed. Mission Support Alliance, which provides support services across Hanford, is looking at cutting as many as 50 jobs.
► In today’s News Tribune — Doctors, nurses at two MultiCare urgent care clinic chains file papers to form union — Doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants at nearly two-dozen urgent care clinics owned by MultiCare are in the process of unionizing with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (a California-based affiliate of AFSCME).
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Staff cuts part of Trios Health’s plan to improve troubled finances — Trios Health is taking steps to improve its troubled financial position, including making staffing cuts. The target is to reduce enough hours to equal 93 full-time hospital employees and 23 full-time Trios Medical Group clinic workers.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Three county jail workers hurt in alleged assault by inmate — Two corrections deputies and a sergeant were injured Wednesday after they were assaulted by an inmate at the Snohomish County Jail.
► In the PSBJ — Amazon’s air force is hiring to fill aerospace jobs in Seattle
► In today’s Seattle Times — New minimum wage data don’t settle Seattle debate (by Jon Talton) — A new report finds that wages rose fastest for the lowest-paid workers in 17 states that enacted minimum-wage increases last year. Washington wasn’t among them because the state already had a $9.50 an hour minimum, among the highest in the country until last year. So the benefits for the lowest-wage workers have already accrued… As for lost lower-wage jobs here — which critics of the $15 wage cite as a danger — no evidence has yet emerged.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Rethink capital-gains tax for education funding (by Brier Dudley) — Proposals for a capital-gains tax to cover Washington’s school funding shortfall should get a fresh look, in light of federal tax changes proposed by President Trump and Republicans in Congress.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Levy cliff avoided, but lawmakers left out details (editorial) — As we’re talking about schools, let’s grade this by subject: In passing legislation that extended the “levy cliff” deadline by a year, lawmakers earned A grades for timeliness, compromise and bipartisanship. But as for legislative clarity, even a D-plus may be a little generous.
► From The Stranger — How Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson fought Trump and won America’s heart — Ferguson’s ability to take on Trump wasn’t an overnight fluke. It’s the result of decades of nurturing a competitive streak, a deliberate focus on civil rights, and the kind of confidence that comes from rarely losing, whether in chess (he was an internationally rated chess master by age 19), in elections (with the exception of a race for high-school student-body president, he’s never lost one, having won a total of three elections to the King County Council and two terms as attorney general), or in court (as Trump has just learned)… He may feign a bashful aw shucks quality, as if he’s stumbled into his notoriety, but Bob Ferguson isn’t here to fuck around. Every move in Ferguson’s political career has strategically propelled him toward taking on bigger and more formidable opponents. “A lot of people say, ‘Well, Bob, it must have been a really hard decision, right?'” Ferguson says of suing Trump. “It wasn’t.”
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump federal budget 2018: Massive cuts to the arts, science and the poor — President Trump on Thursday will unveil a budget plan that calls for a sharp increase in military spending and stark cuts across much of the rest of the government including the elimination of dozens of long-standing federal programs that assist the poor, fund scientific research and aid America’s allies abroad. Trump’s first budget proposal would increase defense spending by $54 billion and then offset that by stripping money from more than 18 other agencies. The cuts could represent the widest swath of reductions in federal programs since the drawdown after World War II, probably leading to a sizable cutback in the federal non-military workforce.
► From Reuters — Trump wants to privatize air traffic control in the U.S. — President Trump is proposing to shift oversight of the U.S. air traffic control from the federal government to an independent group. Trump, who called the U.S. air traffic control system “obsolete” in a meeting with airline executives last month, is proposing $16.2 billion for the Department of Transportation’s discretionary budget for fiscal year 2018, a reduction of 13 percent.
► From The Hill — Trump makes $1.5B request for border wall — The request could trigger a fierce partisan showdown over the controversial wall proposal, as well as Trump’s broader efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.
► In today’s Huffington Post — Trump budget makes it official: You’re paying for the wall, not Mexico
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Border agency anticipates years to hit Trump’s hiring goal — The Trump administration says the U.S. Border Patrol won’t lower hiring standards to satisfy the president’s order to add 5,000 agents and will need several years to hit its target.
► In today’s NY Times — Two federal judges block Trump’s latest travel ban — A federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order Wednesday evening blocking Trump;s ban on travel from parts of the Muslim world, dealing a stinging blow to the White House and signaling that Trump will have to account in court for his heated rhetoric about Islam. A second federal judge in Maryland ruled against Trump with a separate order forbidding the core provision of the travel ban.
► From Huffington Post — Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric continues to haunt his travel ban in court — A federal judge says Trump’s own words provide “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus.”
► From KNKX — U.S. Women’s Hockey Team boycotting world championships to protest low pay — The U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team — the reigning world champions — won’t be defending their title this year… The players are asking for higher wages — pointing out that in the past, USA Hockey paid them $1,000 a month for six months every Olympic cycle, and “virtually nothing” for the other 3 1/2 years. That works out to $1,500 a year.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.
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