Advertise here
Advertise here

senate

now browsing by tag

 
 

S&P 500 Futures Edge Lower After Alabama Vote Cuts GOP Senate Majority

Futures for the SP 500 turned slightly lower early Wednesday morning after Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s special election Tuesday, reducing the GOP’s already-narrow Senate majority. Still, the overnight impact was muted.

X Alabama is normally a deep-red state, but accusations of sexual misconduct involving teens hurt Republican Roy Moore.

Tuesday’s vote will complicate President Trump’s agenda by cutting the GOP Senate majority to just 51-49. However, Jones likely won’t take office for a few weeks, giving Republicans some time to pass tax cuts with another vote to spare.

Details of the evolving GOP tax-cut plan appeared after Tuesday’s close. Meanwhile, investors expect a Federal Reserve interest-rate hike Wednesday.

SP 500 index futures fell 0.1% vs. fair value. Dow futures were essentially flat. Nasdaq 100 futures sank 0.1%.

Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL) is close to carving out a flat base. But Apple chip plays are not faring as well, with Broadcom (AVGO) undercutting its buy point Tuesday, joining Skyworks Solutions (SWKS), Applied Materials (AMAT), Analog Devices (ADI) and Qorvo (QRVO) below the 50-day line as chipmakers continue to slump.

The GOP tax plan being hashed out between the House and Senate now has a 21% corporate tax cut, down from the current 35%, but up from prior  plans for 20%. There would be a 37% personal income rate and the mortgage interest deduction would  be capped at $750,000, down from the current $1 million but above the House’s $500,000.

Apple

Apple shares fell 0.6% to 171.70 in Tuesday’s stock market trading, but they’re still holding support slightly above the 50-day moving average.

Apple appears to be headed toward a flat base, which needs a minimum of five weeks. That would occur at the end of this week. This hypothetical bullish consolidation, with a potential buy point of 176.34, would be a base-on-base formation above a prior cup-with-handle pattern.

The tech titan, a member of the Nasdaq, SP 500 and Dow industrials, has shaken off iPhone X supply concerns.

But such worries may be affecting key iPhone-related chip plays, which are also struggling due to general weakness in semiconductors.

Broadcom

Broadcom had been one of the stronger Apple chipmakers, holding above its 259.46 buy point for the most part since the late-October breakout, becoming somewhat extended in late November.

Broadcom, which is mounting a now-hostile bid for fellow wireless-chip giant Qualcomm (QCOM), reported strong earnings and guidance as well as a big dividend hike last week.

Shares popped intraday Dec. 7 on the report, but closed flat. In the last three sessions, shares tested their buy point and 50-day moving average, finally closing below both levels with Tuesday’s 0.4% loss to 258.81.

Because Broadcom wiped out a 10% gain from its buy point, that entry is now invalid. A strong, high-volume retaking of the 50-day line could present a new buying opportunity.

Applied Materials

The chip-equipment giant is not a direct Apple supplier, though it’s been deemed an iPhone X play for its work with OLED screens.

Applied Materials fell 2.2% to 50.47 on Tuesday, continuing to hold below its 50-day moving average.

In fact, just one of the 22 largest chip-gear stocks by market cap is current above that key support line, Kulicke Soffa (KLIC). That’s despite the record chip-gear sales in 2017 and 2018 seen by industry group SEMI.

Among top chipmakers, Intel (INTC) and Texas Instruments (TXN) are slightly above their 50-day lines, but not many others are, outside of MA-related plays.

Analog Devices

Analog Devices successfully broke out in late September/early October, unlike many other Apple suppliers. Shares rose more than 9% above an 85.81 buy point by Nov. 20. But shares then reversed lower on the company’s latest earnings report and soon undercut their 50-day line.

In recent sessions, Analog Devices has been holding just above or below the 85.81 entry, which is technically still valid. Shares fell 0.4% to 85.48 on Tuesday.

Skyworks Solutions, Qorvo

Skyworks broke out in late October and Qorvo in early November, with both rising for a few sessions but then quickly tumbling through their buy points and 50-day lines.

Skyworks fell 0.5% to 96.47 on Tuesday, about 18% off its high. Qorvo lost 1.3% to 67.70, hitting a four-month low intraday.

RELATED:

The Big Picture: This Key Tech Sector Shows Unusual Weakness

5 Truck Stocks Set Up Buy Points Despite Tesla Semi: Investing Action Plan

Bullish Chart Patterns: Do You Know The Basics Of A Cup With Handle?

Bullish Chart Patterns II: How To Find The Exact Buy Point

Top Stories: Alabama Senate Election; Native Americans’ Views On Health Care

Good morning, here are our early stories:

— What To Watch And What’s At Stake In The Alabama Senate Race.

— Amnesty International: Europe Complicit In Libyan Migrant Abuses.

— Charles Jenkins, Cold War Defector To North Korea, Dies At 77.

— Native Americans Feel Invisible In U.S. Health Care System.

And here are more early headlines:

Tracking Southern California’s Largest Wildfire. (Los Angeles Times)

Trump Blames Immigration For New York Subway Attack. (WNBC)

France Hosts World Climate Summit; Trump Not Invited. (Bloomberg)

Deadline Is Friday For Obamacare Signups. (AP)

U.N. Says 2017 World Economic Growth Reaches 3%. (U.N. News Centre)

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Leader Shteinman Dies In Israel At 104.(AP)

“Endless Summer” Director Bruce Brown Dies At 80. (KPCC)

The Health 202: Senate GOP intensifies push to send more cash to Obamacare marketplaces

THE PROGNOSIS

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) says she’s confident Congress will pass two measures to stabilize the Obamacare marketplaces, even after lawmakers repealed the individual mandate to buy insurance. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Republicans are increasingly resolved to infuse more funding into the Obamacare marketplaces, even as they work on a parallel measure to undermine the health-care law by erasing its mandate to buy coverage.

In an email sent to senators Tuesday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised imminent action on a pair of measures designed to stabilize the marketplaces and help mitigate the premium hikes that some consumers are experiencing. “We will address legislation that Lamar, Susan and others are drafting to protect our constituents from skyrocketing premium increases,” McConnell wrote, referring to Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Yesterday, Collins told reporters she has a fresh promise from Alexander that the Senate will take up the marketplace funding bills, probably as part of a big, year-end spending deal. And although members of the House Freedom Caucus have often characterized the measures as an Obamacare “insurer bailout,” their leader, Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) indicated he might be willing to back them, after all.

Characteristic of their rather helter-skelter approach to the Affordable Care Act, McConnell and his leadership team seem intent on passing the marketplace stabilization measures right on the heel of voting to dismantle the health-care law’s centerpiece — its requirement to buy health insurance. The two-prong approach is designed to keep both the GOP’s right flank as well as those closer to the center on board as Republicans heave themselves toward the heavy year-end lifts of a major tax overhaul, plus a bill to keep the government funded.

It appears virtually certain that repeal of the law’s individual mandate to buy coverage will be included in a final tax bill. Two of the moderate senators most likely to defect over that issue — Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — are okay with getting rid of the mandate, arguing it has been less effective than expected and its associated penalty is paid chiefly by lower-income Americans.

The question is whether Republicans will also manage to pass the two bipartisan measures essentially infusing cash into marketplace plans — a move that analysts say will help insurers lower premiums, which have been spiking across the country.

A measure from Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would fund $7 billion in extra cost-sharing discounts; another one from Collins and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) would provide $4.5 billion in reinsurance funding. If either one passes, it probably would be as part of a big spending measure.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.). (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said yesterday that at least Alexander-Murray will get a vote. “I do think we’re going to take up the Alexander-Murray proposal to try to stabilize the insurance markets in the interim and bring premiums down,” he told reporters.

Underlying the whole issue is a complex web of political considerations and policy disputes, as Republicans remain divided over whether they have a responsibility to improve the ACA and Democrats stew over their colleagues’ recent move to undermine the law by repealing its individual mandate.

“Alexander-Murray should have been passed months ago to reduce damage Republicans have already done to families’ health care, and is not designed to fix the higher premiums, coverage losses, and health-care chaos that the Republican tax bill will cause if it becomes law,” a Murray aide said.

(Here’s a helpful idea: Perhaps Sens. Alexander and Murray could hash all this out on a joint visit to fortuitously-named Scottish whiskey bottler Alexander Murray Company. The Health 202 would be glad to accompany them to cover the deal-making.)

Collins has emerged as a central player in this debate, hinging her support for repealing the mandate in the Senate’s tax bill on promises from GOP leaders they’d also bring up the stabilization bills. Yesterday, she told reporters that after meeting Tuesday with Alexander, she has been reassured that is leadership’s intention.

Of course, things aren’t playing out in exactly the order Collins would wish. Congress probably will pass a temporary two-week spending patch on Friday, then finish taxes and end the year with some kind of spending agreement. Collins would rather the stabilization measure happen first, but she’s not going to die on that hill.

“I want to make sure if the timing is not as I would prefer … that we will have the commitment that it will be done before the end of the year,” Collins told me.

Of course, it may not be so crucial at the end of the day that Collins supports a final tax overhaul. The Senate bill passed last week with 51 votes, and Republicans need just 50 votes with tiebreaking help from Vice President Pence. Still, it’s a tight margin, and there’s no guarantee other Republicans might not defect at the last minute over other issues, such as action on the federal DACA program for young immigrants.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is another big question mark. His office indicated this week he hasn’t committed to passing any Obamacare stabilization bills, which the most conservative Republicans have characterized as insurer “bailouts.” A spokeswoman didn’t respond Wednesday to a request to clarify his stance.

But Collins dismissed Ryan’s seeming indifference, saying she’s confident because she also has a promise from President Trump to prop up the ACA marketplaces, which cover about 11 million Americans.

“[Ryan] has not said he’s not on board — and the president is on board — so I think we’ll have significant influence with House members,” she said.

d6539_imrs The Health 202: Senate GOP intensifies push to send more cash to Obamacare marketplaces

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In another positive sign for the funding bills, Meadows indicated Wednesday that he’s open to passing Alexander-Murray if it would bring Senate Democrats on board a government spending bill, even though he previously said it’s not a move he’d back. Other Republicans have also suggested they wouldn’t withhold votes on a spending bill over the stabilization measures.

“I will support whatever we have to do to keep the government open,” Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) told my colleague Erica Werner on Tuesday. “I do not support the CSRs, but I will not let that stand in the way of me voting for” a spending measure. 

Democrats are furious that Republicans moved to repeal the mandate, even after Murray worked extensively with Alexander on their marketplace stabilization bill. But there’s little they can do; they can’t block the GOP from passing its tax overhaul, and it seems unlikely at the end of the day that they’d oppose a bill to improve the ACA.

So for now, they’re taking a step back as Collins takes the lead on the issue.

“This is a check McConnell needs to cash to Collins,” a Democratic aide told me.

The policy question underpinning all of this: Does infusing more cash into the Obamacare marketplaces compensate for the damage done by repealing the mandate?

Eliminating the mandate would cause marketplace premiums to increase 10 percent annually, as more healthy people, freed of the penalty, choose not to buy coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO has said that providing the cost-sharing subsidies to insurers, although it would help them lower premiums, wouldn’t be enough to offset the premium hikes from the mandate repeal.

“It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a leg that’s been cut off,” a GOP lobbyist characterized it to me last week.

But yesterday, Collins pointed to a new analysis from the firm Avalere, which found that the CSR payments in combination with the reinsurance she has proposed, would lower individual market premiums by 18 percent next year and the following year — although the report also said that repealing the mandate could “overshadow” the effects.

HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn:

“The combination of the two bills more than offsets the premium increase that is caused by the repeal of the individual mandate,” Collins said. “This is something I’ve said from the beginning.”

d6539_imrs The Health 202: Senate GOP intensifies push to send more cash to Obamacare marketplaces

This file photo shows one of an assortment of marijuana strains during the High Times Harvest Cup in San Bernardino, Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, file)

AHH: Los Angeles is set to become the largest city in the country legalizing recreational marijuana. Members of the L.A. City Council unanimously passed new regulations allowing pot cultivation and sales next year, according to the Associated Press. But under the regulations,  pot businesses would be prohibited in residential neighborhoods and in zones around schools, libraries and parks.

It’s not yet clear how many businesses, if any, would be ready to begin selling by the start of 2018. And businesses that want to sell marijuana will need local permits before they can apply for state licenses required to open their doors. The rules are now headed to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is expected to approve them.

While some cities around the country have banned commercial pot sales, many California municipalities have embraced them, partly because of the tax revenue such sales could bring in. Also yesterday, the mayor of San Francisco signed legislation allowing the sale of recreational marijuana possibly beginning in January if local businesses get licensed in time. And San Jose will allow its 16 medical marijuana dispensaries to start selling recreational pot starting next year.

d6539_imrs The Health 202: Senate GOP intensifies push to send more cash to Obamacare marketplaces

A woman holds a birth control pill. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters)

OOF: Women who use birth control pills or IUDs that release hormones are at a slightly elevated risk for breast cancer, a new study finds. Researchers found that for every 100,000 women who use hormonal contraceptives, there are 68 cases of breast cancer every year, compared with 55 cases annually among women who use birth control without hormones, the New York Times reports. The possible culprit might be the commonly used hormone progestin.

A connection between birth-control pills and breast cancer has previously been acknowledged, but the new study is the first to assess the risks linked to the currently used pill formulas and other devices, the NYT writes. Researchers found there’s only a minor difference in the risks from either pills or devices, which means women cannot necessarily protect themselves from the elevated breast cancer risk by switching to a birth control implant or intrauterine device.

So what have we leaned? Dr. Marisa Weiss, an oncologist who founded breastcancer.org and wasn’t involved in the study, told the Times the research is important because doctors didn’t know how modern-day pills compared to the “old-fashioned pills” — and had no idea at all whether IUDs (which are increasing in popularity) caused an increased breast cancer risk.

“Gynecologists just assumed that a lower dose of hormone meant a lower risk of cancer. But the same elevated risk is there,” Weiss said.

The increase of just 13 cases per 100,000 women is significant when you consider the millions of  women who use birth control, Weiss said. Nearly 10 million American women use oral contraceptives, per the Times, including 1.5 million women who use them for reasons other than to prevent pregnancy. Still, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists emphasizes that hormonal birth control options are “among the most safe, effective and accessible options available” for preventing pregnancy.

d6539_imrs The Health 202: Senate GOP intensifies push to send more cash to Obamacare marketplaces

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and his wife Kelley Paul arrive for the Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 3. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

OUCH: What in the world provoked one wealthy, accomplished doctor to attack another wealthy, accomplished doctor? Justin Jouvenal explores this question for The Post from Bowling Green, Ky., where Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) experienced the worst attack on a sitting senator in decades, right in his own yard.

“Rand Paul was on the verge of becoming a powerful senator and the nation’s leading libertarian. His neighbor was a successful doctor and Kennedy-style Democrat who favored nationalized medicine,” Justin writes. “They might have sparred over health care or taxes, but an acquaintance of both said they stood in their yards roughly a decade ago shouting at each other over the grass clippings Paul’s mower had shot on Rene Boucher’s property.”

Boucher’s attorney said in an interview his client attacked Paul over long-simmering disagreements between the two about the care of grass, trees and other landscaping on their adjacent properties in an exclusive gated community. Yet Paul has been more cryptic about the cause, telling Fox News last week that he hasn’t spoken with Boucher in a decade. The assault left Paul with six cracked ribs, a case of pneumonia and briefly sidelined during a crucial debate over a tax overhaul in Washington.

“After my ribs were broken then he said things to me to try to indicate why he was unhappy but I think the, I guess to me the bottom line is it isn’t so important — if someone mugs you is it really justified for any reason?” Paul said.

“Intrigue has deepened in the weeks since the Nov. 3 assault as Paul and Boucher have remained largely quiet about what prompted it,” Justin writes. “Into the vacuum, competing theories for the assault have been floated, like so many Washington trial balloons. They range from the mundane, such as bad blood over spoiled views of a lake, to the outlandish — an Antifa plot.”

d6539_imrs The Health 202: Senate GOP intensifies push to send more cash to Obamacare marketplaces

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

–House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says his agenda items for 2018 include shrinking federal health-care and welfare programs, which are the biggest drivers of government spending.

“We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show. “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”

That would mean making cuts to Medicare spending, as our colleague Jeff Stein writes. That task is politically tricky not only because Medicare is popular, and because it’s an election year, but also because President Trump vowed during his campaign that he wouldn’t cut spending on Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. But Ryan said he has discussed the possibility of Medicare cuts with the president.

“I think the president is understanding that choice and competition works everywhere in health care, especially in Medicare,” Ryan said. “This has been my big thing for many, many years. I think it’s the biggest entitlement we’ve got to reform.”

Ryan’s remarks add to a chorus of Republicans who have targeted government spending as a critical item on next year’s to-do list, even as they strive to pass a tax plan that nonpartisan analysts say would increase the deficit by at least $1 trillion over a decade.

d6539_imrs The Health 202: Senate GOP intensifies push to send more cash to Obamacare marketplaces

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

— U. S. health-care spending in most categories — including for Medicare, Medicaid and retail prescription drugs — grew at a slower rate in 2016 compared to the year prior, according to the annual health expenditures report released yesterday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Overall spending grew 4.3 percent last year, down from 5.8 percent growth the year prior. Spending growth had increased in 2014 and 2015, as more Americans obtained coverage via the ACA, but that growth has slowed as the insured rate has stabilized.

“The overall rate of increase in health care spending experienced a slight slowdown over the previous year, driven in part by the expected moderation in growth after the expansion of insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act,” my colleague Carolyn Y. Johnson reports. “There was also a sharp decrease in the growth of prescription drug expenditures, as hepatitis C treatment costs have declined and fewer patients are receiving them.”

But spending did accelerate for one important category that directly affects consumers: The extra costs such as copayments and deductibles they must pay out of pocket for care or medications. Out-of-pocket spending grew 3.9 percent last year, significantly faster than a 2.8 percent growth rate in 2015. The faster growth reflects a continued shift among consumers toward high-deductible health plans, which carry a cheaper monthly premium but require more on-the-spot payments to visit the doctor or obtain medication from a pharmacy.

The Healthcare.gov website. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

–Nine days remain in the 2018 ACA enrollment season. Enrollment on Healthcare.gov accelerated last week, bringing the total to 3.6 million sign-ups, The Post’s Amy Goldstein reports.

“The latest federal snapshot, coming amid fresh political turbulence over the future of insurance marketplaces created under the law, is slightly ahead of the first five weeks’ pace last fall,” Amy writes. “But compared with data from two-thirds of the way through the longer enrollment seasons of past years, the number of consumers who have chosen health plans is lagging far behind.”

The 3.6 million figure is half of the total at the comparable point in last year’s sign-up period, but to reach last year’s 9.2 million enrollee total, a huge surge of people would need to take action by the time the season concludes on Dec. 15 or be automatically re-enrolled just afterward, Amy notes.

–A few more good reads from The Post and beyond:

Today

  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds a hearing on the “Implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act: Progress and Path Forward for Medical Innovation.”
  • The House Veterans Affairs Committee holds a hearing on the VA Medical Surgical Prime Vendor Program.

Coming Up

  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds a hearing on prescription drug costs on Dec. 12.
  • The Kaiser Family Foundation holds an event on “Living in an Immigrant Family in America: How Fear and Toxic Stress Are Affecting Daily Life, Well-Being, and Health” on Dec. 13.
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds a hearing on “Implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act: Responding to Mental Health Needs” on Dec. 13.

Watch House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) light up the Capitol Christmas tree at an outdoor ceremony:

A majority of Senate Democrats have called on Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign as he faces multiple allegations of sexual harassment:

Samantha Bee takes on the Republican tax bill and lawmakers’ response to sexual misconduct:

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah compiles “Trump’s Best Words of 2017:”

Senate panel OKs retiree health care changes affecting police, firefighters

LANSING, MI — The House and Senate Competitiveness Committees voted on Tuesday to approve a package of bills that aim to assess and address underfunded pension and retirement health care systems in local Michigan communities.

The legislature is considering changes after the Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force found a collective $7.46 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $10.13 billion in unfunded health care liabilities lurking in local governments’ finances.

The task force couldn’t agree on the details of how to fix it, but an agreement between House and Senate leaders, along with Gov. Rick Snyder, was the topic of hearings at the state capitol on Tuesday, when both the House Competitiveness Committee and Senate Competitiveness Committee held testimony on identical, 16-bill packages.

The Senate committee moved it 4-1 along partisan lines, with Democrat Rebecca Warren, D-Ann Arbor, opposing.

“Disappointed that the bills being rushed through Competitiveness don’t reflect consensus recommendations of Retirement Task Force threaten to undermine the benefits that firefighters, police other public employees were promised,” Warren tweeted on Tuesday.

The bills introduced in the House and Senate would institute a five-step process to better assess the financial pictures of local governments struggling to fund promised retiree health care benefits. It would put the communities with not enough funding and no feasible plan to fix it — an estimated 20-30 communities, according to Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive — under a three-person Financial Management Team.

That team, organized under the state’s emergency management act, would have broad powers to rectify the underfunding, including through requiring the municipality to change its budget. If the municipality doesn’t comply and fails to rectify that noncompliance, it can be sent into emergency management.

Here are the retiree health care changes Michigan lawmakers are considering

Rep. James Lower, R-Cedar Lake, a sponsor of the House legislation, said the plan would help avoid situations like bankruptcy, where retirees could see their benefits reduced or taken away.

“Doing nothing is really, really dangerous for retirees,” Lower said.

Also testifying in support of the legislation was State Treasurer Nick Khouri, who said the bills had the governor’s support. The goal, he said, is to create sustainable pension and health care systems for local units of government.

But the bill met with criticism from democrats like Rep. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, who pointed to the fact that communities were facing decreased revenue sharing payments from the state.

How Michigan’s revenue sharing ‘raid’ cost communities billions for local services

Khouri said the Snyder administration was open to talking about increases in revenue sharing.

But for local police and firefighters, who are counting on the retiree benefits, the

Midland Fire Chief Chris Coughlin of the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs testified in the Senate committee on behalf of a coalition of police and fire organizations in opposition to the legislation. He said the task force came up with broad recommendations the groups supported, but the legislation jeopardizes what police and fire have been promised.  

“Police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line every day. We cannot support legislation that impacts the promises made in collective bargaining agreements. These promises were made and they need to be kept,” Coughlin said.

The House Competitiveness Committee passed the main bills 5-4 along mostly party lines, with Rep. Jason Wentworth, R-Clare, joining Democrats in voting against the bills. Three of the more ancillary bills in the package, House Bills 5314-5316, on revenue sharing funds, passed 6-0-3 with Republicans voting for them and Democrats passing.

The bills are pending now on the House floor, where they could be taken up at any time. 

The Senate on a tentative agenda put out Tuesday night has the bills listed as going all the way through final passage on Wednesday.

MLive Reporter Lauren Gibbons contributed to this story.

Senate panel OKs retiree health care changes affecting police, firefighters

LANSING, MI — The House and Senate Competitiveness Committees voted on Tuesday to approve a package of bills that aim to assess and address underfunded pension and retirement health care systems in local Michigan communities.

The legislature is considering changes after the Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force found a collective $7.46 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $10.13 billion in unfunded health care liabilities lurking in local governments’ finances.

The task force couldn’t agree on the details of how to fix it, but an agreement between House and Senate leaders, along with Gov. Rick Snyder, was the topic of hearings at the state capitol on Tuesday, when both the House Competitiveness Committee and Senate Competitiveness Committee held testimony on identical, 16-bill packages.

The Senate committee moved it 4-1 along partisan lines, with Democrat Rebecca Warren, D-Ann Arbor, opposing.

“Disappointed that the bills being rushed through Competitiveness don’t reflect consensus recommendations of Retirement Task Force threaten to undermine the benefits that firefighters, police other public employees were promised,” Warren tweeted on Tuesday.

The bills introduced in the House and Senate would institute a five-step process to better assess the financial pictures of local governments struggling to fund promised retiree health care benefits. It would put the communities with not enough funding and no feasible plan to fix it — an estimated 20-30 communities, according to Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive — under a three-person Financial Management Team.

That team, organized under the state’s emergency management act, would have broad powers to rectify the underfunding, including through requiring the municipality to change its budget. If the municipality doesn’t comply and fails to rectify that noncompliance, it can be sent into emergency management.

Here are the retiree health care changes Michigan lawmakers are considering

Rep. James Lower, R-Cedar Lake, a sponsor of the House legislation, said the plan would help avoid situations like bankruptcy, where retirees could see their benefits reduced or taken away.

“Doing nothing is really, really dangerous for retirees,” Lower said.

Also testifying in support of the legislation was State Treasurer Nick Khouri, who said the bills had the governor’s support. The goal, he said, is to create sustainable pension and health care systems for local units of government.

But the bill met with criticism from democrats like Rep. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, who pointed to the fact that communities were facing decreased revenue sharing payments from the state.

How Michigan’s revenue sharing ‘raid’ cost communities billions for local services

Khouri said the Snyder administration was open to talking about increases in revenue sharing.

But for local police and firefighters, who are counting on the retiree benefits, the

Midland Fire Chief Chris Coughlin of the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs testified in the Senate committee on behalf of a coalition of police and fire organizations in opposition to the legislation. He said the task force came up with broad recommendations the groups supported, but the legislation jeopardizes what police and fire have been promised.  

“Police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line every day. We cannot support legislation that impacts the promises made in collective bargaining agreements. These promises were made and they need to be kept,” Coughlin said.

The House Competitiveness Committee passed the main bills 5-4 along mostly party lines, with Rep. Jason Wentworth, R-Clare, joining Democrats in voting against the bills. Three of the more ancillary bills in the package, House Bills 5314-5316, on revenue sharing funds, passed 6-0-3 with Republicans voting for them and Democrats passing.

The bills are pending now on the House floor, where they could be taken up at any time. 

The Senate on a tentative agenda put out Tuesday night has the bills listed as going all the way through final passage on Wednesday.

MLive Reporter Lauren Gibbons contributed to this story.

The Senate’s Tax Bill Eliminates the Individual Mandate for Health Insurance. Here’s What You Need to Know

Early Saturday morning, the Senate voted to pass the Republican Party’s sweeping tax reform bill, and among other provisions, the bill would eliminate the penalty for not buying health insurance starting in 2019.

So next year, you still need to be covered — at least, as of now.

The individual mandate clause of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) requires individuals to buy insurance or pay a penalty at tax time, unless they qualify for a limited number of exemptions. If the Senate’s proposal survives in the final version of the tax bill, then beginning in 2019 consumers will be able go without coverage and not face a fine. The penalty for going uncovered for 2018 will be $695 per adult or 2.5% of household income in excess of tax filing thresholds, whichever is higher.

Members of the House and the Senate will now work to reconcile their versions of the GOP tax bill. Lawmakers have said that they’d like to finalize a tax reform plan by Christmas, so they can send it to President Donald Trump for signing into law. The House tax bill didn’t waive the penalty for going uninsured.

Open enrollment ends Dec. 15 for Affordable Care Act plans. If you’re on the individual insurance market, you have until that date to sign up for a new plan or change your existing plan. While it’s possible that the final version of the GOP tax bill could have a different plan for the individual mandate, that may not become clear until after the sign-up deadline.

For now, the individual mandate penalty remains in place for 2018. Existing customers should shop around rather than allow the system to re-enroll them in their current plans, says Sabrina Corlette, research professor at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. There are plenty of bargains out there: Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that more than half of subsidy-eligible, uninsured individuals could buy a bronze-level plan for no premium contribution—that is, a $0 premium.

And regardless of what the tax reform bill says, it’s simply a smart idea to have health insurance. “You should buy insurance because it helps you get access to care, and it’s critical financial protection in case something awful happens,” Corlette says.

You can expect the individual market to look very different if the penalty goes away, experts say. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that repealing the individual mandate starting in 2019 would result in 4 million losing coverage in 2019 and 13 million losing coverage in 2027. Many healthy people would voluntarily opt to go without coverage, and insurers could raise their premiums to cover the remaining, sicker population. These higher premiums would in turn cause more consumers to become priced out of the market.

Technically, the GOP tax bill doesn’t repeal the individual mandate, Corlette says; it simply reduces the penalty for going uncovered to zero, But in practice, eliminating the penalty will have the same result as eliminating the individual mandate altogether.

Senate’s huge tax bill would have potent ripple effects for health …

The Republican tax overhaul that squeaked through the Senate early Saturday morning would reach deep into the nation’s health-care system, with a clear dagger to a core aspect of the Affordable Care Act and broader ripple effects that could threaten other programs over time.

The measure would abolish the government’s enforcement of the ACA requirement that most Americans carry insurance coverage. It would not end the individual mandate itself but would eliminate tax penalties for flouting that requirement. The result could cause an extra 13 million people to become uninsured and drive up insurance premiums in marketplaces created under the law, according to an estimate by Congress’s nonpartisan budget analysts.

Yet downstream effects of the bill that have drawn less attention could potentially damage the health care and well-being of far more people.

The Senate plan would increase the federal deficit starting in the current fiscal year and — unless lawmakers intervene — would unleash a budgetary sequence of events cutting billions of dollars from Medicare and public health services. The reductions would flow from a “pay as you go” law that basically requires offsets to increases in federal spending.

At the same time, the frenzied negotiations to line up support for the huge legislation within the Senate’s slender majority improved the prospects for temporarily reviving payments to ACA insurers that President Trump ended this fall. In becoming the last GOP senator to announce support for the tax bill, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said late Friday afternoon that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had “committed to support” two separate measures by the end of the year.

One is a bipartisan plan that would restore for two years “cost-sharing reduction” payments to cover the expense of discounts that the ACA compels insurers to give lower-income customers on deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. Trump cut off the monthly payments as of October, erroneously terming them “bailouts” to the insurance industry. The plan, forged by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), also would expand consumers’ ability to buy inexpensive “catastrophic” health plans through ACA marketplaces and make it easier for states to secure federal permission to carry out the law’s basic ideas in different ways.

An attempt to pass the plan faltered in the Senate earlier in the fall, but Collins said Friday that McConnell was now willing to support its passage, along with a newer plan that would give states two years of money for various “reinsurance” funds intended to help insurers blunt premium increases. Neither measure has been considered by the House.

Now that both chambers of Congress have passed versions of the biggest rewrite of tax law in decades, the differences must be negotiated. The House bill would not end penalties for Americans who fail to carry insurance, but Republicans there have been sympathetic to the idea, which was part of legislation that the House adopted this year to dismantle much of the ACA.

The likelihood of big reductions in other forms of health-care spending, triggered by the pay-as-you-go law — also known as paygo — to deter deficit increases, is less certain.

In the hours before the Senate’s final vote on the tax overhaul package, McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) sought to tamp down fears of such cuts, issuing a joint statement in which they accused Democrats of “misleading claims” and promised to “work to ensure these spending cuts are prevented.”

The bill itself does not avert them, however. Separate action would be required later and — unlike the parliamentary maneuvers used to adopt the tax plan with only GOP votes — would require support from some Democrats. Republican leaders predict that Democrats would cooperate rather than bear blame for harming health-care funding.

The leaders’ joint statement has its skeptics. “We are aware they say they will waive the paygo, but we have little comfort that they can do this,” said Georges S. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “Why did they not write the bill to address this in the first place?”

The cuts, if they happen, would decrease federal spending on Medicare by 4 percent — amounting to about $25 billion next year, the Congressional Budget Office forecast. Because paygo rules do not allow Medicare benefits to be touched, the funding loss would be spread among payments to doctors, hospitals and others that provide care to the program’s 56 million older and disabled Americans.

Those rules focus only on the mandatory spending within the federal budget and would leave untouched some health-care programs that provide help to low-income Americans, such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But it could eliminate nearly $1 billion a year for a Prevention and Public Health Fund, created under the ACA, that now represents 12 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget.

If that fund disappears, “people are going to be sicker,” Benjamin warned, with fewer low-income Americans likely to get tested for breast or colon cancer, and public health workers less able to control outbreaks of contagious infections.

Even if the paygo cuts are averted, advocates for vulnerable groups of Americans fear that the sheer magnitude of the bill’s deficit increase — $1.5 trillion in the coming decade — would give conservatives in Congress reason to shrink social safety programs that they have long hoped to target.

“That is ultimately the most troubling part,” said David Certner, legislative counsel for AARP. “We create these large deficits, and that will put pressure for cuts to Medicare, Medicaid. . . . Everything will be on the table.”

Senate’s huge tax bill would have potent ripple effects for health-care system

The Republican tax overhaul that squeaked through the Senate early Saturday morning would reach deep into the nation’s health-care system, with a clear dagger to a core aspect of the Affordable Care Act and broader ripple effects that could threaten other programs over time.

The measure would abolish the government’s enforcement of the ACA requirement that most Americans carry insurance coverage. It would not end the individual mandate itself but would eliminate tax penalties for flouting that requirement. The result could cause an extra 13 million people to become uninsured and drive up insurance premiums in marketplaces created under the law, according to an estimate by Congress’s nonpartisan budget analysts.

Yet downstream effects of the bill that have drawn less attention could potentially damage the health care and well-being of far more people.

The Senate plan would increase the federal deficit starting in the current fiscal year and — unless lawmakers intervene — would unleash a budgetary sequence of events cutting billions of dollars from Medicare and public health services. The reductions would flow from a “pay as you go” law that basically requires offsets to increases in federal spending.

At the same time, the frenzied negotiations to line up support for the huge legislation within the Senate’s slender majority improved the prospects for temporarily reviving payments to ACA insurers that President Trump ended this fall. In becoming the last GOP senator to announce support for the tax bill, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said late Friday afternoon that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had “committed to support” two separate measures by the end of the year.

One is a bipartisan plan that would restore for two years “cost-sharing reduction” payments to cover the expense of discounts that the ACA compels insurers to give lower-income customers on deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. Trump cut off the monthly payments as of October, erroneously terming them “bailouts” to the insurance industry. The plan, forged by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), also would expand consumers’ ability to buy inexpensive “catastrophic” health plans through ACA marketplaces and make it easier for states to secure federal permission to carry out the law’s basic ideas in different ways.

An attempt to pass the plan faltered in the Senate earlier in the fall, but Collins said Friday that McConnell was now willing to support its passage, along with a newer plan that would give states two years of money for various “reinsurance” funds intended to help insurers blunt premium increases. Neither measure has been considered by the House.

Now that both chambers of Congress have passed versions of the biggest rewrite of tax law in decades, the differences must be negotiated. The House bill would not end penalties for Americans who fail to carry insurance, but Republicans there have been sympathetic to the idea, which was part of legislation that the House adopted this year to dismantle much of the ACA.

The likelihood of big reductions in other forms of health-care spending, triggered by the pay-as-you-go law — also known as paygo — to deter deficit increases, is less certain.

In the hours before the Senate’s final vote on the tax overhaul package, McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) sought to tamp down fears of such cuts, issuing a joint statement in which they accused Democrats of “misleading claims” and promised to “work to ensure these spending cuts are prevented.”

The bill itself does not avert them, however. Separate action would be required later and — unlike the parliamentary maneuvers used to adopt the tax plan with only GOP votes — would require support from some Democrats. Republican leaders predict that Democrats would cooperate rather than bear blame for harming health-care funding.

The leaders’ joint statement has its skeptics. “We are aware they say they will waive the paygo, but we have little comfort that they can do this,” said Georges S. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “Why did they not write the bill to address this in the first place?”

The cuts, if they happen, would decrease federal spending on Medicare by 4 percent — amounting to about $25 billion next year, the Congressional Budget Office forecast. Because paygo rules do not allow Medicare benefits to be touched, the funding loss would be spread among payments to doctors, hospitals and others that provide care to the program’s 56 million older and disabled Americans.

Those rules focus only on the mandatory spending within the federal budget and would leave untouched some health-care programs that provide help to low-income Americans, such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But it could eliminate nearly $1 billion a year for a Prevention and Public Health Fund, created under the ACA, that now represents 12 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget.

If that fund disappears, “people are going to be sicker,” Benjamin warned, with fewer low-income Americans likely to get tested for breast or colon cancer, and public health workers less able to control outbreaks of contagious infections.

Even if the paygo cuts are averted, advocates for vulnerable groups of Americans fear that the sheer magnitude of the bill’s deficit increase — $1.5 trillion in the coming decade — would give conservatives in Congress reason to shrink social safety programs that they have long hoped to target.

“That is ultimately the most troubling part,” said David Certner, legislative counsel for AARP. “We create these large deficits, and that will put pressure for cuts to Medicare, Medicaid. . . . Everything will be on the table.”

Senate Passes Tax Cut Bill That Threatens Public Health and Clean Energy


GENERAL MEDIA INQUIRIES

202-331-5420


For specific issues, contact the appropriate press contact below.
 

ABBY FIGUEROA

Communications Officer, 510-809-1564, afigueroa@ucsusa.org
Energy, CA and Western States, Vehicles

SETH MICHAELS

Communications Officer, 202-331-5662, smichaels@ucsusa.org
Center for Science Democracy, Vehicles

ELLIOTT NEGIN

Senior Writer, 202-331-5439, enegin@ucsusa.org
Global Security, Nuclear Power

LISA NURNBERGER

Media Team Manager, 202-331-6959, lnurnberger@ucsusa.org
Nuclear Weapons

ASHLEY SIEFERT

Communications Officer, 202-331-5666, asiefert@ucsusa.org
Climate, International Climate Negotiations

JA-REI WANG

Communications Officer, 202-331-6943, jwang@ucsusa.org
Food Agriculture, Fossil Fuel Company Accountability

ASHANTI WASHINGTON

Communications Officer, 202-331-5660, awashington@ucsusa.org
Energy

Senate’s tax bill would have major ripple effects on health care system

The Republican tax overhaul that squeaked through the Senate early Saturday morning would reach deep into the nation’s health care system, with a clear dagger to a core aspect of the Affordable Care Act and broader ripple effects that could threaten other programs over time.

The measure would abolish the government’s enforcement of the ACA requirement that most Americans carry insurance coverage. It would not end the individual mandate itself but would eliminate tax penalties for flouting that requirement. The result could cause an extra 13 million people to become uninsured and drive up insurance premiums in marketplaces created under the law, according to an estimate by Congress’s nonpartisan budget analysts.

Yet downstream effects of the bill that have drawn less attention could potentially damage the health care and well-being of far more people. The Senate plan would increase the federal deficit starting in the current fiscal year and – unless lawmakers intervene – would unleash a budgetary sequence of events cutting billions of dollars from Medicare and public health services. The reductions would flow from a “pay as you go” law that basically requires offsets to increases in federal spending.

At the same time, the frenzied negotiations to line up support for the massive legislation within the Senate’s slender majority improved the prospects for temporarily reviving payments to ACA insurers that President Donald Trump ended this fall. In becoming the last GOP senator to announce support for the tax bill, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said late Friday afternoon that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had “committed to support” two separate measures by the end of the year.

The Senate just passed a tax bill that would strike a blow to a fundamental part of Obamacare

Over a 40-year career, this ‘stubborn scientist’ helped change the way we think about cancer and genetics

Senate’s massive tax bill would have potent ripple effects for health-care system

The Republican tax overhaul that squeaked through the Senate early Saturday morning would reach deep into the nation’s health-care system, with a clear dagger to a core aspect of the Affordable Care Act and broader ripple effects that could threaten other programs over time.

The measure would abolish the government’s enforcement of the ACA requirement that most Americans carry insurance coverage. It would not end the individual mandate itself but would eliminate tax penalties for flouting that requirement. The result could cause an extra 13 million people to become uninsured and drive up insurance premiums in marketplaces created under the law, according to an estimate by Congress’s nonpartisan budget analysts.

Yet downstream effects of the bill that have drawn less attention could potentially damage the health care and well-being of far more people.

The Senate plan would increase the federal deficit starting in the current fiscal year and — unless lawmakers intervene — would unleash a budgetary sequence of events cutting billions of dollars from Medicare and public health services. The reductions would flow from a “pay as you go” law that basically requires offsets to increases in federal spending.

At the same time, the frenzied negotiations to line up support for the massive legislation within the Senate’s slender majority improved the prospects for temporarily reviving payments to ACA insurers that President Trump ended this fall. In becoming the last GOP senator to announce support for the tax bill, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said late Friday afternoon that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had “committed to support” two separate measures by the end of the year.

One is a bipartisan plan that would restore for two years “cost-sharing reduction” payments to cover the expense of discounts the ACA compels insurers to give lower-income customers on deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. Trump cut off the monthly payments as of October, erroneously terming them “bailouts” to the insurance industry. The plan, forged by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), also would expand consumers’ ability to buy inexpensive “catastrophic” health plans through ACA marketplaces and make it easier for states to secure federal permission to carry out the law’s basic ideas in different ways.

An attempt to pass the plan faltered in the Senate earlier in the fall, but Collins said Friday that McConnell was now willing to support its passage, along with a newer plan that would give states two years of money for various “reinsurance” funds intended to help insurers blunt premium increases. Neither measure has been considered by the House.

Now that both chambers of Congress have passed versions of the biggest rewrite of tax law in decades, the differences will have to be negotiated. The House bill would not end penalties for Americans who fail to carry insurance, but Republicans there have been sympathetic to the idea, which was part of legislation the House adopted this year to dismantle much of the ACA.

The likelihood of big reductions in other forms of health-care spending, triggered by the so-called PAYGO law to deter deficit increases, is less certain.

In the hours before the Senate’s final vote on the tax overhaul package, McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) sought to tamp down fears of such cuts, issuing a joint statement in which they accused Democrats of “misleading claims” and promised to “work to ensure these spending cuts are prevented.”

The bill itself does not avert them, however. Separate action would be required later on and — unlike the parliamentary maneuvers used to adopt the tax plan with only GOP votes — would require support from some Democrats. Republican leaders predict that Democrats would cooperate rather than bear blame for harming health care funding.

The leaders’ joint statement has its skeptics. “We are aware they say they will waive the PAYGO, but we have little comfort that they can do this,” said Georges S. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “Why did they not write the bill to address this in the first place?”

The cuts, if they happen, would decrease federal spending on Medicare by 4 percent — amounting to about $25 million next year, the Congressional Budget Office forecast. Because PAYGO rules do not allow Medicare benefits themselves to be touched, the funding loss would be spread among payments to doctors, hospitals and others that provide care to the program’s 56 million older and disabled Americans.

Those rules focus only on the mandatory spending within the federal budget and would leave untouched some health-care programs that provide help to low-income Americans, such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But it could eliminate nearly $1 billion a year for a Prevention and Public Health Fund, created under the ACA, that now represents 12 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget.

If that fund disappears, “people are going to be sicker,” Benjamin warned, with fewer low-income Americans likely to get tested for breast or colon cancer and public health workers less able to control outbreaks of contagious infections.

Even if the PAYGO cuts are averted, advocates for vulnerable groups of Americans fear that the sheer magnitude of the bill’s deficit increase — $1.5 trillion in the coming decade — would give conservatives in Congress reason to shrink social safety-programs that they have long hoped to target.

“That is ultimately the most troubling part,” said David Certner, legislative counsel for AARP. “We create these large deficits and that will put pressure for cuts to Medicare, Medicaid . . . Everything will be on the table.”

Physicians fear Senate tax bill will devastate health care

Provisions in the Senate tax bill that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement that persons purchase qualified health insurance (individual mandate) and that would lead to deep cuts to Medicare and other federal health programs will do great harm to tens of millions of the most vulnerable patients, including seniors.  A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report showed the number of uninsured would increase by four million in 2019 and 13 million in 2027.

Repeal of the individual mandate violates the imperative that any proposed changes to the ACA should first, do no harm to patients. The ACA, with the individual mandate, has been an effective tool in reducing the uninsured rate to its lowest level in decades, from 18.2 percent in 2010 to 10.3 percent in 2016.

What is more, the offsets the bill contains would negatively impact other federal health programs. Under a 2010 law called Statutory Pay-As-You-Go (SPAYGO) Act, any law that will add to the federal deficit must be paid for with spending cuts, increases in revenue or other offsets. Automatic cuts are imposed if Congress does not enact offsets to prevent them.

Tax cuts and other initiatives should not come at the cost of automatic cuts to programs that serve individual and public health, including Medicare, Medicaid, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other agencies.

A CBO report showed that the SPAYGO cuts triggered by the bill would result in a $25 billion cut to Medicare in 2018. It would cause additional cuts to graduate medical education, lab fees, and hospital payments. It would also cut or entirely eliminate hundreds of other federal programs that are critical to health, including those within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

Rather than continuing the effort to repeal a key part of the ACA through budget reconciliation measures, or otherwise, Congress should work together in a bipartisan manner to improve coverage and lower costs. Repealing the individual insurance mandate, as part of this legislation or any other, would only result in harm to our patients as would any cuts to Medicare or other vital health programs.

Yesterday, the American College of Physicians, the largest physician specialty organization in the United States, sent a letter to the Senate leadership warning of the harm the tax bill would cause. America’s health care will be much better off if they pay attention to the advice of those who know health care best.


Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the “Report Abuse” option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Load comments


Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

House Internet Censorship Bill Is Just Like The Senate Bill, Except Worse

SESTA and FOSTA Are Cut from the Same Cloth. Both Would Be Disastrous for Online Communities

There are two bills racing through Congress that would undermine your right to free expression online and threaten the online communities that we all rely on. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) might sound noble, but they would do nothing to fight sex traffickers. What they would do is force online web platforms to police their users’ activity much more stringently than ever before, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process.

We’ve already written extensively about SESTA and the dangers it would pose to online communities, but as the House of Representatives considers moving on FOSTA, it’s time to reiterate that all of the major flaws in SESTA are in FOSTA too.

Section 230 Protects Online Communities. Don’t Weaken It.

Like SESTA, FOSTA would erode a law referred to as Section 230. Passed in 1996, Section 230 says that online platforms can’t be held liable for their users’ speech, except in certain circumstances. Without Section 230, it would be extremely risky to host other people’s speech online: one lawsuit could destroy your company. Most social media sites wouldn’t exist, or they’d look very different from the ones we enjoy today.

Section 230 strikes an important balance for when and how online platforms can be held liable for their users’ speech. Contrary to SESTA’s supporters’ claims, Section 230 does nothing to protect platforms that are directly involved with breaking federal criminal law. If an Internet company is directly contributing to unlawful activity, the Department of Justice can and should prosecute it.

Under FOSTA, a site would be on the hook if a court simply found that someone had used it for sex trafficking purposes. The law would force platforms to become much more restrictive in their moderation policies, which is likely to disproportionately silence marginalized groups.

FOSTA carves an even bigger hole out of Section 230 than SESTA does. It defines the state law exemption to Section 230 more broadly, applying it to “any State criminal statute” related to sex trafficking. State sex trafficking laws are notoriously inconsistent: in Alaska and Massachusetts, for example, statutes define trafficking so broadly that they don’t require any indication that someone was forced or coerced into sex work. FOSTA could open the door to litigation far beyond the sex trafficking activities it’s intended to target.

Broad Criminal Law Would Hurt Legitimate Communities

Like SESTA, FOSTA expands federal sex trafficking law to sweep in third parties that unknowingly facilitate sex trafficking (like web platforms), but FOSTA defines those third parties even more broadly than SESTA does, criminalizing conduct by “any person or entity and by any means that furthers or in anyway aids or abets” sex trafficking. It even goes a step further by explicitly making it a crime to be a provider of an Internet service that was used for sex trafficking purposes, provided that you acted in “reckless disregard” of the possibility that your service could be used for trafficking (we’ve written already about the dangers of applying the “reckless disregard” standard to online intermediaries).

Remember, Congress already made it it a federal crime to “advertise” sex trafficking online, via the SAVE Act of 2015. No new law is necessary to prosecute platforms that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking ads. If the Department of Justice has failed to prosecute platforms that violate the SAVE Act, then lawmakers should demand an explanation. In the meantime, Congress shouldn’t pass laws threatening every other online community.

Bottom Line: These Bills Go After the Wrong Targets

We’ve talked a lot about the damage that SESTA and FOSTA would do to speech and communities online. Just as important is what they would not do: fight sex trafficking.

SESTA and FOSTA are perfect examples of Congress choosing an easy target rather than the right target. It’s easy to prosecute Internet companies, but Congress must do the serious work of understanding trafficking—its causes, its perpetrators, and the online tools law enforcement can use to fight it—and find better solutions to find and punish traffickers.

Since SESTA and FOSTA were first introduced, many experts in sex trafficking have stepped forward to explain that these bills are the wrong solution—that they would put victims of sex trafficking in much worse predicaments, moving them from the safety of the Internet to a dangerous street—where they are much less likely to get help.

It’s not pleasant to confront the dark realities of sex trafficking, but Congress must. Otherwise, it risks passing a bill that would harm the very victims it’s trying to help.

Reposted from EFF’s Deeplinks blog

US House internet censorship bill is just like the Senate bill, except worse

There are two bills racing through Congress that would undermine your right to free expression online and threaten the online communities that we all rely on. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) might sound noble, but they would do nothing to fight sex traffickers. What they would do is force online web platforms to police their users’ activity much more stringently than ever before, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process.

We’ve already written extensively about SESTA and the dangers it would pose to online communities, but as the House of Representatives considers moving on FOSTA, it’s time to reiterate that all of the major flaws in SESTA are in FOSTA too.

Section 230 Protects Online Communities. Don’t Weaken It.

Like SESTA, FOSTA would erode a law referred to as Section 230. Passed in 1996, Section 230 says that online platforms can’t be held liable for their users’ speech, except in certain circumstances. Without Section 230, it would be extremely risky to host other people’s speech online: one lawsuit could destroy your company. Most social media sites wouldn’t exist, or they’d look very different from the ones we enjoy today.

Section 230 strikes an important balance for when and how online platforms can be held liable for their users’ speech. Contrary to SESTA’s supporters’ claims, Section 230 does nothing to protect platforms that are directly involved with breaking federal criminal law. If an Internet company is directly contributing to unlawful activity, the Department of Justice can and should prosecute it.

Under FOSTA, a site would be on the hook if a court simply found that someone had used it for sex trafficking purposes. The law would force platforms to become much more restrictive in their moderation policies, which is likely to disproportionately silence marginalized groups.

FOSTA carves an even bigger hole out of Section 230 than SESTA does. It defines the state law exemption to Section 230 more broadly, applying it to “any State criminal statute” related to sex trafficking. State sex trafficking laws are notoriously inconsistent: in Alaska and Massachusetts, for example, statutes define trafficking so broadly that they don’t require any indication that someone was forced or coerced into sex work. FOSTA could open the door to litigation far beyond the sex trafficking activities it’s intended to target.

Broad Criminal Law Would Hurt Legitimate Communities

Like SESTA, FOSTA expands federal sex trafficking law to sweep in third parties that unknowingly facilitate sex trafficking (like web platforms), but FOSTA defines those third parties even more broadly than SESTA does, criminalizing conduct by “any person or entity and by any means that furthers or in anyway aids or abets” sex trafficking. It even goes a step further by explicitly making it a crime to be a provider of an Internet service that was used for sex trafficking purposes, provided that you acted in “reckless disregard” of the possibility that your service could be used for trafficking (we’ve written already about the dangers of applying the “reckless disregard” standard to online intermediaries).

Remember, Congress already made it it a federal crime to “advertise” sex trafficking online, via the SAVE Act of 2015. No new law is necessary to prosecute platforms that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking ads. If the Department of Justice has failed to prosecute platforms that violate the SAVE Act, then lawmakers should demand an explanation. In the meantime, Congress shouldn’t pass laws threatening every other online community.

Bottom Line: These Bills Go After the Wrong Targets

We’ve talked a lot about the damage that SESTA and FOSTA would do to speech and communities online. Just as important is what they would not do: fight sex trafficking.

SESTA and FOSTA are perfect examples of Congress choosing an easy target rather than the right target. It’s easy to prosecute Internet companies, but Congress must do the serious work of understanding trafficking—its causes, its perpetrators, and the online tools law enforcement can use to fight it—and find better solutions to find and punish traffickers.

Since SESTA and FOSTA were first introduced, many experts in sex trafficking have stepped forward to explain that these bills are the wrong solution—that they would put victims of sex trafficking in much worse predicaments, moving them from the safety of the Internet to a dangerous street—where they are much less likely to get help.

This story originally appeared on the EFF’s blog.

State Senate candidates tackle health care costs, pot revenue

Staff report

The Sentinel Enterprise asked the four candidates seeking the state Senate seat in the Worcester and Middlesex district a series of 10 questions on regional and state issues. The newspaper is publishing their replies over the next five days.

The special election is scheduled on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Question: Healthcare now consumes 42 percent of the state’s $40 billion budget, taking away funding for other discretionary needs like education. Is a single-payer system a possible solution or would it make things worse?

Charlene DiCalogero, Rainbow-Green Party — Single payer/Medicare for all is essential. With it, all people get covered and can get preventive care, which saves money. No one wastes time and money trying to understand complicated, expensive insurance plans, struggling to find practitioners covered by their insurer, and avoiding getting treatment until there’s a crisis. We save money by taking profit-making out of health insurance.

Sue Chalifoux Zephir, Democrat — I believe access to quality affordable health care is a basic right, and we need to get big profits out of our healthcare system. A single-payer “Medicare for All” system would save families money by reducing administrative and advertising costs. We also need to take on the pharmaceutical industry and get control of the absurd, rising cost of prescription drugs.

Claire Freda, Unenrolled — The healthcare issue is a difficult one to answer and the fact that no solutions have been found indicate that.

From most reports Canada’s system seems to be working. We have no idea what the federal contribution will be and what we will have to support. I don’t believe there is enough information to make a determination.

Dean Tran, Republican — With respect to healthcare, my goal is twofold: (1) to ensure the Commonwealth can serve an appropriate role collaborating with the healthcare community to reduce costs for consumers and; (2) reduce the overall burden on the state budget. I believe the bipartisan healthcare reform passed in 2006 is the right foundation. Just a few years ago, the state tried to layer on additional federal regulations, which wound up breaking the Health Connector and costing us nearly a billion dollars. Given that past experience, I believe it would be unwise to pursue a massive, $35 billion program for single-payer. I think we should instead continue the work the Legislature started around cost containment, and pursue reforms like the governor outlined to protect taxpayers from subsidizing people who can obtain insurance through their employers.

Question: Should communities that place a ban on the sale of marijuana within their borders be allowed to share in state government tax proceeds derived from the industry?

Charlene DiCalogero, Rainbow-Green Party — How are proceeds distributed for communities that have no or very limited cigarette sales, or sales tax for small towns with few commercial outlets? That precedent could provide a solution. Another alternative: provide higher revenue percentages to towns with stores selling marijuana than those without, and/or in funding substance treatment services.

Sue Chalifoux Zephir, Democrat — Smaller towns like Lancaster, Lunenberg, and Sterling may not have a retail area that makes sense for the sale of marijuana, and marijuana retailers may decide not to locate in towns with less foot traffic. Those communities shouldn’t be penalized for that. Every community should have a share in state tax revenues from the new marijuana industry.

Claire Freda, Unenrolled — Communities that chose to ban marijuana from their communities should be allowed to share in the revenue. It would be logistically impossible, in my opinion, to attempt it. Until we know the effect of the new law and issues that may or may not arise, all communities will be affected.

Dean Tran, Republican — I have no strong preference either way but I would lean toward sharing the proceeds and benefits with all communities regardless of their stance on banning or not banning the sale of marijuana. 

COMING SUNDAY: Questions on increasing the minimum wage and placing a 4 percent surcharge on those earning $1 million and more.

Senate funding proposal to eliminate EPA’s IRIS program is a public health debacle

Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist with the Health Program.

Among other things, IRIS chemical reviews are used to inform clean-up decisions at Superfund and other contaminated sites, set standards to ensure clean drinking water, assess health risks from toxic air emissions, and evaluate health risks of chemicals in commerce. These are all legally mandated activities stipulated under different laws to ensure the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the lands where we work, live, and play are safe.

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Appropriations majority posted their version of the FY2018 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill online (see bill here and accompanying explanatory statement here; see the minority’s summary response here). The legislation lays out spending measures for a number of agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  In releasing the bill yesterday, the majority has bypassed the amendment and markup process.

Among other cuts, the bill eliminates the EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program. At best a small fraction of its responsibilities – and only one-third of its funding – would be re-allocated to the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP).

If realized, this short-sighted move would be a debacle in terms of protecting public health from harmful chemical exposures.

[A short fact sheet on IRIS and implications of eliminating it is available here.]

Most well-known for its gold-standard chemical toxicity reviews, EPA’s IRIS Program is a non-regulatory program that provides critical information and scientific expertise to support decision-making across the agency’s programs and regional offices as well as to other federal agencies, states, localities, and tribes.

Among other things, IRIS chemical reviews are used to inform clean-up decisions at Superfund and other contaminated sites, set standards to ensure clean drinking water, assess health risks from toxic air emissions, and evaluate health risks of chemicals in commerce. These are all legally mandated activities stipulated under different laws to ensure the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the lands where we work, live, and play are safe.

Beyond supporting requirements under the law, IRIS Program experts are often called in to help regions, states, and tribes respond rapidly to emergency and other priority situations. IRIS staff are invaluable in these moments, when time is of the essence and experts are few and far between.

So, why would such a vital program be slated for elimination? Segments of the chemical industry and its allies in Congress (and now within EPA itself) have long complained about the quality of IRIS assessments, citing for support past reviews by GAO and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). But they conveniently ignore the more recent impartial reviews of the program that have given it high marks.

While NAS panels have been critical of IRIS in the past, the most recent NAS review from 2014 praised the program for substantial improvements made over a short period time. EPA’s Science Advisory Board echoed the same sentiments just this past summer, noting that no other federal entity performs IRIS functions. Critics also neglect to mention that much of the remaining critique, such as the program’s listing on the “high-risk” list maintained by GAO, points to insufficient resources and throughput, not quality issues.

And, don’t be fooled, moving IRIS staff out of the non-regulatory Office of Research and Development (ORD) into OCSPP would cost EPA scientific expertise that serves the entire agency, severely undermining the legal responsibilities Congress has given it.

Such a move would also sever the independence between scientific review and regulatory decisions informed by such reviews. This approach has been argued against in several NAS reviews of risk assessment. Indeed, per EPA’s website: “The placement of the IRIS Program in ORD is intentional. It ensures that IRIS can develop impartial toxicity information independent of its use by EPA’s program and regional offices to set national standards and clean up hazardous sites.”

In sum, EPA’s IRIS program plays a vital role in ensuring that our health is protected from harmful exposures. Instead of eliminating the IRIS Program, Congress should be dedicating additional resources in order to maintain its current workload and boost the program’s ability to help support chemical risk evaluations under the newly reformed TSCA.

Trump open to dropping health-care provision in Senate tax bill, aide says

<!– –>




58497_104492841-GettyImages-688228988-mick-mulvaney.600x400 Trump open to dropping health-care provision in Senate tax bill, aide says


U.S. President Donald Trump would not insist on including repeal of an Obama-era health insurance mandate in a bill intended to enact the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s, a senior White House aide said on Sunday.

The version of tax legislation put forward by Senate Republican leaders would remove a requirement in former President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law that taxes Americans who decline to buy health insurance.

“If we can repeal part of Obamacare as part of a tax bill … that can pass, that’s great,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we are OK with taking it out.”

It was too soon to say whether eliminating the repeal of the so-called individual mandate would increase the bill’s chances of passing. The provision was not an impediment now, Mulvaney said.

Republican senators who have been critical of the plan said that some middle-income taxpayers could see any benefits of the tax cuts wiped out by higher health insurance premiums if the repeal of the Obamacare mandate goes through.

Among them was Senator Susan Collins, one of a handful of Republicans who voted in July to block a broader Republican attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

“I don’t think that provision should be in the bill. I hope the Senate will follow the lead of the House and strike it,” Collins said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Republicans can only afford to lose two votes on the tax bill because of their slim 52-48 majority in the Senate.

Getting rid of the mandate is one of Republican Trump’s main goals. He campaigned for president last year on a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, but Congress has not agreed so far on how to do that.

Another top Trump administration official, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, said the individual mandate “isn’t a bargaining chip.”

“The president thinks we should get rid of it and I think we should get rid of it,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”

Mnuchin said the objective “right now” was to keep repeal of the mandate in the bill. “We are going to work with the Senate as we go through this. We are going to get something to the president to sign this year,” he said.

The House of Representatives last week passed its tax bill. Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, consider a tax bill critical to their party’s prospects in the 2018 U.S. congressional elections. Democrats call the Republican plan a giveaway to corporations and the rich.

‘Needs work’

Trump had urged lawmakers to add repeal of the mandate to the tax bill, writing on Twitter last week that the provision was “unfair” and “highly unpopular.” The next day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did just that.

The mandate plays a critical role in Obamacare by requiring young, healthy people, who might otherwise go without coverage, to purchase insurance and help offset the costs of covering sicker and older Americans.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said that repealing the mandate would increase the number of Americans without health insurance by 13 million by 2027.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt said he thought the Senate bill would pass with or without the individual mandate repeal. “It depends on where the votes are,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Appearing on several television shows, Collins said she also wanted the Senate to “skew more of the relief to middle-income taxpayers.” She advocated keeping the top tax rate of 39.6 percent for people who make $1 million or more a year, as the House does, as well as the deduction for state and local taxes.

The corporate tax does not need to be cut so steeply to 20 percent, Collins said. A 22 percent rate would garner an additional $200 billion and allow the Senate to restore the deduction for state and local property taxes, she told ABC.

Collins has emerged as a pivotal lawmaker in the tax debate, along with Republican Senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Ron Johnson, all of whom are also on the fence or oppose the bill.

The Senate bill needs work, Collins told ABC’s “This Week.”

“I want to see changes in that bill,” she said. “And I think there will be changes.”

Playing

Share this video…

Watch Next…



Trump open to dropping health-care provision in Senate tax bill, aide says

<!– –>




58497_104492841-GettyImages-688228988-mick-mulvaney.600x400 Trump open to dropping health-care provision in Senate tax bill, aide says


U.S. President Donald Trump would not insist on including repeal of an Obama-era health insurance mandate in a bill intended to enact the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s, a senior White House aide said on Sunday.

The version of tax legislation put forward by Senate Republican leaders would remove a requirement in former President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law that taxes Americans who decline to buy health insurance.

“If we can repeal part of Obamacare as part of a tax bill … that can pass, that’s great,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we are OK with taking it out.”

It was too soon to say whether eliminating the repeal of the so-called individual mandate would increase the bill’s chances of passing. The provision was not an impediment now, Mulvaney said.

Republican senators who have been critical of the plan said that some middle-income taxpayers could see any benefits of the tax cuts wiped out by higher health insurance premiums if the repeal of the Obamacare mandate goes through.

Among them was Senator Susan Collins, one of a handful of Republicans who voted in July to block a broader Republican attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

“I don’t think that provision should be in the bill. I hope the Senate will follow the lead of the House and strike it,” Collins said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Republicans can only afford to lose two votes on the tax bill because of their slim 52-48 majority in the Senate.

Getting rid of the mandate is one of Republican Trump’s main goals. He campaigned for president last year on a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, but Congress has not agreed so far on how to do that.

Another top Trump administration official, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, said the individual mandate “isn’t a bargaining chip.”

“The president thinks we should get rid of it and I think we should get rid of it,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”

Mnuchin said the objective “right now” was to keep repeal of the mandate in the bill. “We are going to work with the Senate as we go through this. We are going to get something to the president to sign this year,” he said.

The House of Representatives last week passed its tax bill. Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, consider a tax bill critical to their party’s prospects in the 2018 U.S. congressional elections. Democrats call the Republican plan a giveaway to corporations and the rich.

‘Needs work’

Trump had urged lawmakers to add repeal of the mandate to the tax bill, writing on Twitter last week that the provision was “unfair” and “highly unpopular.” The next day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did just that.

The mandate plays a critical role in Obamacare by requiring young, healthy people, who might otherwise go without coverage, to purchase insurance and help offset the costs of covering sicker and older Americans.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said that repealing the mandate would increase the number of Americans without health insurance by 13 million by 2027.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt said he thought the Senate bill would pass with or without the individual mandate repeal. “It depends on where the votes are,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Appearing on several television shows, Collins said she also wanted the Senate to “skew more of the relief to middle-income taxpayers.” She advocated keeping the top tax rate of 39.6 percent for people who make $1 million or more a year, as the House does, as well as the deduction for state and local taxes.

The corporate tax does not need to be cut so steeply to 20 percent, Collins said. A 22 percent rate would garner an additional $200 billion and allow the Senate to restore the deduction for state and local property taxes, she told ABC.

Collins has emerged as a pivotal lawmaker in the tax debate, along with Republican Senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Ron Johnson, all of whom are also on the fence or oppose the bill.

The Senate bill needs work, Collins told ABC’s “This Week.”

“I want to see changes in that bill,” she said. “And I think there will be changes.”

Playing

Share this video…

Watch Next…



Zebra Technologies Participates in Senate Hearing on Advancement of Internet of Things

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Zebra
Technologies Corporation
(NASDAQ: ZBRA), the market leader in rugged
mobile computers, barcode scanners and barcode printers enhanced with
software and services to enable real-time enterprise visibility,
participated in the Nov. 7 Senate hearing on advancing the Internet of
Things (IoT) in rural communities before the Communications, Technology,
Innovation and Internet Subcommittee.

Mike Terzich, Chief Administrative Officer of Zebra Technologies,
discussed how Zebra is a global leader in bringing enterprise IoT
solutions to the Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Government
(B2G) markets. Zebra leads the growing category of Enterprise Asset
Intelligence which describes the ability of businesses to track critical
assets within their operations and to know exactly what they are, where
they are and their condition so they can make smarter, faster decisions
that improve their bottom line.

KEY FACTS

  • Zebra works with companies across multiple industries in rural America
    and around the world that recognize the transformational role of IoT
    solutions in addressing a variety of strategic, operational and
    business challenges.
  • In manufacturing, automation provided by enterprise mobile computers
    delivers instant access to data which is essential to ensuring the
    production process operates smoothly.
  • For retail, the shift to IoT technologies is an industry imperative to
    keep up with the shopping habits and expectations of consumers for a
    seamless shopping experience.
  • For the movement of goods by the transportation logistics (TL)
    industry, companies must leverage IoT solutions to maintain visibility
    that is critical to customer service, quality assurance and
    traceability.
  • With the right IoT solution, healthcare professionals can integrate
    with electronic health record (EHR) systems to minimize medication and
    laboratory errors while maximizing patient safety and improving the
    quality of care.
  • Click here
    for a recording of the subcommittee hearing.

SUPPORTING QUOTE

Mike Terzich, Chief Administrative Officer, Zebra Technologies

“For companies in rural America to successfully utilize our B2B IoT
solutions, there is one universal, vital resource – they must have
unfettered access to quality, high-speed broadband, both wireline and
wireless. Without investment in broadband infrastructure in rural
communities, companies, healthcare providers, and consumers will be left
behind. Spectrum is the lifeblood of IoT, and that is no different for
business IoT solutions.”

ABOUT ZEBRA

With the unparalleled operational visibility Zebra (NASDAQ: ZBRA)
provides, enterprises become as smart and connected as the world we live
in. Real-time information – gleaned from visionary solutions including
hardware, software and services – give organizations the competitive
edge they need to simplify operations, know more about their businesses
and customers and empower their mobile workers to succeed in today’s
data-centric world. For more information, visit www.zebra.com
or sign up for our news
alerts
. Follow us on LinkedIn,
Twitter
and Facebook.

ZEBRA and the stylized Zebra head are trademarks of ZIH Corp.,
registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. All other trademarks are the
property of their respective owners. ©2017 ZIH Corp. and/or its
affiliates. All rights reserved.