Author Archives: ndeanne

How Many More Layoffs Before Congress Acts?

After just returning from a five-week recess and sitting in session for a mere eight days, Congress has entered another break which will last until after the November elections. That Congress will not act on important policy is an accurate representation of the past two years. The 112th Congress had, as of last month, completed action on 173 laws. That’s about half of the output of a typical congress. Although political pundits joke that this Congress can’t even agree on post office policy, this recess leaves essential legislation up in the air, including the farm bill, the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and automatic tax increases that will affect every American and decisions on the federal budget.

One of the many important policies on which Congress has thus far neglected and must act before the end of the year is the renewal of tax credits for the renewable energy industry, including the Production Tax Credit, the Investment Tax Credit for Offshore Wind, the Advanced Energy Tax Credit (48C) and the 1603 Treasury Grant Program.

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Green Jobs Update

Green Jobs Update – September 26th 2012

The American Wind Energy Association held a three day training program in Illinois for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The program attendees were trained to climb the ladder structure of a wind turbine, perform self-rescue and learned the” generating components in a wind turbine to develop a better understanding of how a wind turbine operates.”

Sustainable Energy Systems highlights the 5 Green Jobs that are Helping Our Economy. The article unsurprisingly names clean energy jobs (those that work with renewable energy sources like solar energy, wind energy and hydroelectricity) but also includes sustainable designers and housekeepers that use green products.

“Arkansas is in the top percent of the states in this country with regard to the percentage of their workforce involved in green jobs or renewable energy jobs,” according to the Sierra Club. A wind production tax credit helps to subsidize the development of wind energy across the country, creating thousands of jobs but unless Congress acts quickly these jobs could disappear.

Last week, Detroit’s NGO WARM hosted their annual training breakfast which this year focused on the promise of green jobs and how organizations like WARM are setting the foundation upon which the new economic base of the world economy, green technology, will be built. WARM works to provide energy education, green jobs training and education on sustainability and green building and technology.

In 2010, Minnesota employed almost 70,000 workers in sustainable positions and green groups, like the Sierra Club, are attracting student interns. “An internship, whether it be the Sierra Club or another environmental organization, can be a very valuable thing on a résumé,” an organizing representative for the Sierra Club’s North Star chapter in Minneapolis said.


The Rising Cost of Child Care

Hard-working Americans should not have to choose which basic and essential expenses they can afford from week to week or month to month. Sadly, this describes the reality for far too many families. Elderly adults grapple with deciding how they will divvy up paltry Social Security benefits among heating in the wintertime, rent payment or the always increasing out of pocket costs for medication.  Nearly one in five American households reported an inability to afford enough in food during the first six months of 2012. The United States is the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave, forcing workers, mothers and fathers to make the decision of coming to work sick, or staying home to care for themselves or a sick child and risking termination from their job. And almost one-half of all Americans are economically insecure.

One of the greatest sources of this financial strain, of course, is the high cost of child care which is explained in striking terms by a new national report by ChildCare Aware. CNN covered the report’s release, among other outlets, detailing how child care costs exceed rent in most states.

The report by ChildCare Aware shows that placing an infant in a child care center in Minnesota, for example, costs more than a year of state college tuition and can consume half the annual income of a typical single mother. The report highlights, similar to what WOW’s BEST Index reveals, that the math of many family budgets dictates that parents are forced to grapple with whether to pay for child care or for their rent.  If they choose the latter, more parents are turning to informal care or to facilities without licenses that fail to meet health and safety standards. The organization found that states such as Mississippi had some of the lowest costs for child care but also offered high proportions of the poorest quality care. No family should be forced to make the decision between paying rent and placing their child in a potentially unsafe child care facility. Quality and affordable child care should be available to every family.

Amidst all of these challenges, a few day care centers around the country go above and beyond by changing the traditional notion of day care and offering child care around the clock, rental assistance and transitional housing like the Second Street Learning Center in Pennsylvania, recently lauded in a report by NPR.

The cost of child care is just one, though a significant one, in the total value of raising a child. A report released last year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture determined that the cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 for a middle-income two-parent family averaged $226,920. Importantly, this figure does not factor in the costs of college or any of the medical costs associated with pregnancy and delivery.

Unfortunately, the vicious cycle of child care costs (costs increase, therefore parents must increase hours to earn more income but then must rely on more child care in order to do so) exacerbates the problem. This hike in price strains low-income families who already struggle to make ends meet. And the cost of other basic necessities – food, transportation, housing – continue to rise

Of course, the only thing not to increase in value are wages. The tipped minimum wage, for example, has not been raised since 1991 and had the federal minimum wage been indexed (adjusting automatically each year to keep pace with the rising cost of living) it would be approximately $10.55 an hour today. Americans understand the tension between the cost of working and the stagnation of compensation. Two- thirds of Americans believe that the minimum wage should be raised to ten dollars and even though two-thirds of Americans agree that the government or businesses should be doing more to help fund child care for working parents. These issues have not yet been seriously in this Congress – which is beholden to anything but hard working parents struggling to achieve economic security. We can’t let this get us down though. We need to keep pushing for an increase in the minimum wage and child care subsidies so that every family can afford the quality child care they deserve.


Green Jobs Update

Green Jobs Update August 21st, 2012

The Obama administration recently announced that it would reallocate $470 million in unused earmarks to pay for new transportation projects. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood promoted the new allocation as an important way for states “to get down to the business of moving transportation projects forward and putting our friends and neighbors back to work.”

EcoSeed reports on the 37,409 new green jobs that will be created in the United States over the next few months with the announcement of 70+ major clean energy projects. California holds the top spot with the most projects planned and green jobs available though the Midwest region is home to many new projects as well. “The good news is that despite the challenging economic and political environment, the clean energy industry is still creating badly needed American jobs all across the country,” said Judith Albert, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs.

Companies have reported an incredibly high demand for “green jobs,” from July 2010 to July 2012. In those two years, green job demand saw a 44% increase. Companies even outside of the energy sector are also adding green jobs and more and more manufactures are seeking to create green products.

Massachusetts Clean Energy Center announced that Massachusetts’ clean energy economy grew by 11.2 % from July 2011 to July 2012, now employing 71,523 people at 4,995 clean energy firms throughout the state. “I have said from the beginning of this Administration that, if we get clean energy right, the world will be our customer. This past year’s 11.2 percent increase in clean energy jobs means that we are getting it right and the world knows it,” said Governor Deval Patrick.

The Environmental Entrepreneurs second quarterly 2012 Clean Energy Jobs Roundup names California, Florida, New York, Michigan and Colorado respectively as the top five states offering the “best climate for environmentally-minded jobs.” To check out the full list and report click here.

US Green Technology lists the top 5 states for solar jobs. California tops the list, with 26,000 solar jobs created within the state. Check out the other four states here.

A new Michigan State study reveals that increasing Michigan’s renewable energy standard up to 25% would be a “job-creating machine” that doubles the number of green jobs in the state. Michigan has created 80,000 green collar jobs and increasing the standard would also provide more than $10 billion in new investments.


Weekly Policy Update

On The Hill Update:

ON THE HILL… House and Senate leaders announced an agreement this week that will avoid a spending showdown before the November elections by funding government programs from the start of the new fiscal year on October 1 through early March 2013.  The top Senate Democrat and House Republican said both chambers will vote in September on a continuing resolution for the first half of fiscal 2013, using the $1.047 trillion discretionary spending limit agreed to in last year’s deficit reduction law.  Most programs are expected to be funded at fiscal 2012 levels.  Major questions about other fiscal issues, including impending across-the-board spending cuts mandated by the same law, will be left to either a lame-duck session of this Congress or the new Congress that will be seated in 2013.

The House on Wednesday passed a one-year extension of Bush-era tax cuts after rejecting a Democratic proposal to let tax breaks expire on those with high incomes. In a 256-171, mostly party-line vote, the chamber advanced a bill (HR 8) that would extend the full 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of 2012. While the Senate voted 51-48 week to pass a measure (S 3412) that would extend tax rates only for individuals earning up to $200,000 a year and households making up to $250,000, the House legislation would extend the tax cuts for all income over those levels.  In a separate vote, the House rejected the Senate-passed tax bill.  If Congress doesn’t act before January 1, 2013, the Bush-era tax breaks for all taxpayers will expire.

House Speaker John Boehner (R, OH)  named a slate of House negotiators on Monday to work out differences with the Senate over legislation to renew domestic violence programs, but the move does little to end a months-long standoff over the chambers’ competing proposals. Boehner named eight Republicans to a conference committee to finalize a five-year reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.  The conference committee itself, however, has not been formally created. Boehner named his conferees even as he reiterated his position that it is up to the Senate to fix a constitutional flaw in its version of the domestic violence legislation before any such committee can begin discussions. The House argues that the Senate legislation (S 1925) is unconstitutional because it contains a $30 fee associated with immigrant visas. Under the Constitution’s Origination Clause, all revenue legislation must originate in the House.

The House on Thursday advanced a bill that would set up a fast-track process for a comprehensive overhaul of the tax code next year. Lawmakers passed the Republican measure (HR 6169) in a 232-189, mostly party-line vote. The bill would establish rules in the House and Senate for the expedited consideration of a tax overhaul measure expected to be introduced in the 113th Congress.  In related action, the Senate Finance Committee backed a measure Thursday to continue dozens of expired or soon-to-expire tax breaks known as “extenders.”  The overall package includes an alternative minimum tax “patch” to prevent the levy from hitting households with moderate incomes in 2012 and 2013, as well as extensions for the research and development credits, renewable-energy credits and a temporary increase in the bonus depreciation write-off.

The week ahead… Both the House and the Senate will be out of session for a month-long recess.


Green Jobs Update

Green Jobs Update July 27th, 2012

US Green Technology, an organization that focuses on connecting job seekers interested in green jobs to employers, spotlights green sector jobs that all earn a salary of at least $30,000 a year. Their list includes a carbon accountant, urban forester and even a green event planner. To check out the seven other highlighted career opportunities, read the full list here.

Business Journals highlights New York’s Young Urban Forester Summer Internship Program which introduces twelve high school students to a variety of career opportunities in the green jobs market. Throughout the six week program, students have the chance to expand their environmental literacy and stewardship skills through lessons on urban forest conservation, restoration, tree biology and invasive species identification. The internship also encourages students to develop job readiness skills including resume writing, interview techniques and job etiquette. Read more about the summer internship program here.

The EPA has awarded The Enterprise Center in Chattanooga, TN a $300,000 grant to provide training that could result in 60 new full-time jobs for local residents, including positions in the green job sector. “Green goods and services account for 3.1 million jobs, which is 2.4 percent of total employment, and the green sector is growing quickly.” Click here to read the rest of the article.

US Green Technology recently identified five top universities that can help you start your studies in an environmental field. Their list even includes multiple online universities which gives traditional students or working adults the flexibility to earn their degree on their own time. To see which schools made the list, check out their article here.


Weekly Policy Update

ON THE HILL… A House appropriations panel on Wednesday backed a spending bill for labor, health and education programs that would rescind funding to implement the 2010 health care overhaul, despite objections from Democrats.  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved the draft fiscal 2013 measure mostly along party lines 8-6, with Jeff Flake of Arizona casting the sole Republican vote against it. The WANTO (Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations) program was not funded.

The bill would provide a total of $150 billion in discretionary funding, which is $6.3 billion below fiscal 2012 levels and $8.8 billion less than President Obama requested. The full Committee markup has not yet been scheduled but likely will take place next week, a committee aide said.  On the Senate side, the Appropriations Committee advanced its version (S 3295) of the bill last month, calling for a discretionary spending level of $158.8 billion, which matches Obama’s request.

The House bill provides $12 billion for the US Department of Labor, which is $497 million below last year’s level and $72 million below the President’s request.  The bill provides $10.6 billion for Employment Training Administration (ETA), a decrease of $269 million (-3%) below last year’s level and an increase of $174.8 million (2%) above the President’s request. This increase is largely the result of a denial of the President’s proposal to transfer $448 million for the Community Service Employment for Older Americans program to the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill provides $1.7 billion for the Office of Job Corps, which is $20 million below last year’s level and $33 million above the President’s request. This program helps unemployed young Americans receive education, job training, and employment assistance.  This funding will provide for the operation of 126 Job Corp centers in 2013.

Although the full House Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the Labor-HHS-Education 2013 spending bill next week, it is not expected to be considered on the House floor this year.  Instead, it is expected that Congress will approve a Continuing Resolution (CR) sometime in September that will keep all federal agencies funded at current levels until after the election, or possibly into the new year.

Senate Democrats and some House Republicans are stepping up pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R, OH) to end a standoff between the chambers over the renewal of programs aimed at helping domestic violence victims. The House and Senate each have passed their own bill to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act for five years, but the competing measures have not gone to conference because of what the House considers a problematic revenue provision included in  the Senate’s version: a $30 fee for visas granted to some immigrants. Under the Constitution’s Origination Clause, all revenue language must originate in the House. Speaker Boehner, citing the visa fee, has said it is up to the Senate to either remove the provision and pass its bill (S 1925) again, or take up the House-passed version (HR 4970) of the reauthorization and move to conference.

Senate Democrats circulated among party members this week a draft bill that would spare most Americans from higher tax rates due to take effect Jan. 1, 2013 when the Bush-era tax cuts expire.  The Senate bill would allow the tax cuts to expire only on those with annual household income greater than $250,000 and raise the rate on dividends and capital gains from the current 15 percent to 20 percent.  Those with less than $250,000 in household income would continue to enjoy the current lower tax rate.  The draft Senate bill largely carries out the agenda outlined by President Obama in a July 9 speech, although it softens his proposed tax increase on dividends.  The House is expected to extend the lower tax rates for all households.

Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked consideration of tax legislation that supporters say would discourage outsourcing and prompt multinational businesses to move overseas operations back to the United States. Lawmakers rejected, 56-42, a procedural motion that would allow the Senate to take up the bill (S 3364), which would provide a 20 percent business tax credit to cover the cost of shifting overseas jobs to the United States. It also would eliminate tax credits for expenses related to moving operations abroad. Sixty votes were required to proceed to the measure.

House Speaker Boehner and some colleagues continue to show little interest in bringing up a farm and nutrition policy bill this month, despite a bipartisan push by 62 lawmakers to act soon on the legislation. South Dakota Republican Kristi Noem, a freshman member of Boehner’s leadership team, and Vermont Democrat Peter Welch wrote a letter to House leaders of both parties urging them to bring the bill (HR 6083) to the floor before the August recess. The letter was signed by 24 Democrats and 38 Republicans. But in a news conference Thursday, Boehner said no decision has been made on when to bring up the bill.  The bill makes deep cuts in funding for the food stamp program.

Possible cuts to federal spending aimed at reducing the deficit will have a “profound impact” in states that already are struggling with rapidly rising Medicaid costs, underfunded retirement programs and declining revenue, a state budget task force said Tuesday. The task force, led by former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker, said the cuts would come in reduced or eliminated federal grants and procurement and federal workforce reductions that would ripple across state budgets that were weakened during the 2008-09 recession. The report said that if grants were cut by 10 percent, for instance, “the loss to state and local government budgets would be more than $60 billion annually,” almost twice the size of combined tax increases that states enacted from 2008 through 2011. “Cuts this large would certainly cause considerable fiscal stress,” the report said.

The Week Ahead… Both the House and Senate will continue to work towards legislation related to the impending expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts. The Senate is expected to consider the Democratic proposal to extend the middle class tax cuts.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will take up a bill that would bar the Energy Department from issuing loan guarantees for renewable and nuclear energy projects that submitted applications after Dec. 31, 2011. They will consider 15 submitted amendments to the so-called “No More Solyndras Act.”  The House Appropriations Committee will take up the Labor-HHS-Education bill approved this week by the relevant Subcommittee.


Weekly Policy Update

ON THE HILL … As many as three million Americans would be cut off from food assistance in the next year under a Republican proposal that cleared the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday.  The cuts, which are part of a broader farm bill, would reduce spending in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, by $16 billion over 10 years. The reduction is deeper than proposed SNAP cuts in a version of the farm bill that passed the Senate last month with bipartisan support.  Five Democrats joined all of the panel’s Republicans to reject an amendment to restore the cuts.  The panel also defeated an amendment that would have substituted the SNAP reductions in the House bill with the smaller cuts in the Senate bill, estimated to be about $4.5 billion. The panel also rebuffed an amendment that would have more than doubled the SNAP cuts, increasing the savings over 10 years to about $35 billion.  The fate of the farm bill is uncertain.  Speaker Boehner (R-OH) has concerns about it and has not scheduled it for floor action.

After considering the defense spending bill for fiscal 2013 next week, the House will not bring any more appropriations measures to the floor before the election, according to aides, making it highly likely each chamber will have to bundle funding bills during the lame duck session.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday made clear the Senate would not take up any of the 12 annual spending bills before the election.  It also is increasingly likely the House, once it takes up defense funding next week, will also be unable to pass each of its five remaining bills under regular order.  The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS mark-up is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Senate Republicans Thursday blocked a  small business tax credit (S. 2237)  intended to encourage employers to hire new workers, effectively killing the measure. The 53-44 vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to end the Republican filibuster. Originally part of President Obama’s jobs bill, the measure would provide a 10% credit on up to $50 million of a payroll increase by businesses and nonprofit employers. Also,  the bill would allow businesses to deduct the full cost of equipment purchased this year.

President Obama this week called on Congress to extend for one year the Bush-era tax cuts on couples’ income under $250,000 and single filers’ income under $200,000 and continuation of low income tax credits originally part of the Recovery Act.  Obama previously had sought a permanent extension of the current tax rates for middle-income earners. But he said Monday that a one-year extension was a reasonable way for Congress to head off an economic disaster next year while continuing to debate the proper level of taxation for upper-income earners and a possible overhaul of the entire tax system. Majority Leader Reid affirmed Tuesday that the Senate will vote on President Obama’s tax plan before the August recess despite some division in Democratic ranks on the proposal. Republicans are proposing to extend all of the Bush tax cuts, even to millionaires and billionaires.

An Internal Revenue Service rule could spark a new legal battle over the 2010 health care law, which the Supreme Court largely upheld last month. The rule, finalized May 18, allows the federal government to issue subsidies to low- and middle-income Americans to help them purchase health insurance through state and federal exchanges created by the health care law. Conservative lawmakers, however, argue that the law itself authorizes the subsidies only for those buying insurance through state, not federal, exchanges.  Republican Reps. Scott DesJarlais and Phil Roe, both physicians from Tennessee, contend that the IRS is using the rule-making process to circumvent Congress and expand the subsidies to a potentially huge new pool of Americans. DesJarlais and Roe are cosponsoring a resolution (H J Res 112) that would nullify the IRS rule. House Republicans on Wednesday voted for the 31st time to repeal President Obama’s health care law, a symbolic response to the Supreme Court’s ruling since the Senate will not take up the repeal question.


The “Glass Ceiling” vs. the “Glass Escalator”

Two weeks ago, NPR highlighted a recent New York Times article More Men Enter Fields Dominated by Women” stating that from 2000-2010, female-dominated fields accounted for almost a third of the job growth for men. The NPR story “Why More Men Are Choosing ‘Pink Collar Jobs” shared the experiences of three men excelling in these fields and WOW’s own Senior Scholar Mary Gatta, who pioneered the original research, to explain the reasons behind this gender shift in the workplace.

NPR’s discussion began by taking a look at the reasons for this shift and pinpoints the economic recession as a primary catalyst. Many traditional fields for male-‘high school or college’-graduates including construction and manufacturing had been disproportionately impacted by the stagnant economy. Thus, some men began to search outside of the typical sphere. Along with the slow shift in societal norms that is increasingly finding it “OK” for men to place fatherhood first and as well as a necessity for a larger men’s role in child-rearing because of the increase of women in the labor force, men have significantly increased their participation in what were typically female-dominated occupations. Teaching and nursing are two of these fields because of the flexibility they offer which is not usually found on the corporate level. NY Times finds three more benefits drawing men to female dominated professions; they are typically more stable, more difficult to outsource and more likely to grow.

While women encounter a “glass ceiling” in their career advancement (invisible barriers that constrain their promotion due to the gender biased attitudes of men in the higher positions) men seem to struggle against a “glass escalator”. Sociologist Christine Williams first coined the term and in her research found that often men are subtly pushed to move up in their professions and as if on a moving escalator, they must work to stay in place. Because of these expectations, men starting in “pink-collar” fields can face negative stereotypes and gender-based discrimination from the public. On the other hand, men might also receive benefits because of their underrepresentation in these fields. NPR noted how male teachers can serve as a healthy male role model for children who may not otherwise have one; therefore they may be given special privileges among teaching staff.

NPR cautions that the intersectionalities of race, ethnicity and gender are also important to understand before one makes the definitive statement that “men always have it easier”. NY Times also forewarns that the introduction of men to these previously female industries does not mean that men are displacing women from those jobs. The integration of men into predominately and traditionally female spheres is an exciting new trend yet it is difficult to predict if this will lead to the dissolution of the gender binaries in the workforce entirely. While both men and women are struggling to make ends meet after the 2007 recession, women and minorities are more likely to lack economic security than men are. Even though women make up over half of the workforce in the U.S., women still earn on average only 77% of what their male counterparts do. WOW’s report, “Living Below the Line” measures household incomes to the cost of basic needs and expenses and discovered the 62% of all women in the U.S. live without economic security compared to 46% of men in the U.S and 76% of black women and 80% of Hispanic women live in economic insecurity. These statistics are significant and it is important to recognize that at the very least women need fair and adequate wages to achieve economic security in the future.

Both men and women should feel comfortable to follow their passions in any career, despite outside pressures in an environment of increased equity and equality between the sexes. NY Times and NPR shed light on a usually silent subject of the invisible barriers that men face in the workplace. It is encouraging that societal pressures are easing towards men entering nontraditional occupations, but we must keep in mind that simultaneously, women are struggling to earn equal wages, fighting gender-based stereotypes and attempting to meet basic economic security for themselves and their families.


An Important Victory Includes Shadow of Uncertainty

Last week, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court declared that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional. As one of the most contested issues of our time, this decision is a huge victory for the nearly 50 million uninsured Americans and represents a tremendous financial gain for women. While the Court agreed that the Commerce Clause did not grant the federal government power to impose an individual mandate (the ability to impose a financial penalty on those who could and did not purchase health insurance), the Court decided that the federal government certainly has the authority to levy taxes on Americans, meaning the federal government could impose a select tax on individuals who did not buy health insurance.

The decision may seem like a bunch of confusing, constitutional and political maneuvering (and the national media have certainly enjoyed dissecting the electoral implications of the decision and the the penalty v. tax debate), but we cannot forget or ignore that this decision, by preserving the ACA (since the four dissenting justices would have thrown out the whole law), is a vital victory for women across the country.

The ACA ensures a great many protections for women. One of the legislation’s greatest achievements is the elimination of a practice known as “gender rating”, or when insurance companies charge women more than men for comparable coverage simply because they are women. The National Women’s Law Center recently reported that in states without a “gender rating ban” over 90% of the best selling plans charged women more than men, and only 3% of them even cover maternity services. Eliminating this practice will save women and their families over $1 billion dollars-and we’re still debating the presence of gender inequity? In addition to that billion dollars saved, much of women’s basic preventative care will now be covered without copays including contraception, Pap tests, mammograms and domestic violence screenings. The ACA also parses out what constitutes as a “preexisting” condition. Insurance companies have been able to deny women coverage or charge a higher premium solely because of their gender, or if they were pregnant, a survivor of sexual abuse and assault or even previously given birth through a Caesarean section. These practices are now prohibited. The list of successes continues on as the ACA grants maternity care, mandated breaks for nursing mothers, and a private place to breastfeed in the workplace.

The Court’s decision was not all positive news though, as the majority decision limits the federal government’s power to rescind Medicaid funds if states do not expand coverage to low income families, as the ACA prescribes. The ACA aimed to expand the eligibility level to those with incomes up to 133% of the poverty line, extending coverage to 17 million Americans. Administration officials are confident that states will not drop out of the program because the federal government will pay for the entire cost of the expansion from 2014-2016 and then almost 90% of the costs thereafter. Unfortunately, the number of states who have said they might opt out is increasing. The Washington Post’s infographic shows who would be at risk if states opt out of the expansion. This prospect is certainly disconcerting as the expansion of Medicaid was a very significant element in ensuring universal coverage.  If states walk away, this will leave millions of individuals at risk without needed coverage. Check out this interactive map to see how your state would fare if they declined the expansion.

The Court’s decision, in effect, passes responsibility for ensuring this expansion to all of us. Although the ruling is a substantial gain for millions of Americans and especially women, the uncertainty surrounding Medicaid expansion should cast a shadow over our collective excitement. We cannot allow politicking to interfere with the right to decent and affordable health care. We need to let our representatives and governors know that not participating in the expansion is a short-sighted decision that will impose significant harm on vulnerable families.