Dems & Dom, RGGI Grows, Medicaid & Work

By Steve HanerWhat Was Lost Is Found Again.

  Couldn’t they wait at least another few weeks?  Anybody foolish enough to believe that Dominion Energy Virginia and the Virginia Democratic Party establishment have really parted ways (as Jim Bacon seemed to think a while back), take note of this from today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch:   Governor Ralph Northam’s new communications director, Grant Neely, is totally plugged into the Dominion Energy/Richmond’s Navy Hill/Mark Warner and Bob Blue nexus.  You can fool some of the people some of the time, but certain Democrats just about any time you want.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

The P in PJM Now Joining RGGI.  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has signed an executive order that his state should be the next to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  According to this from The Philadelphia Inquirer, the executive order route comes after being rebuffed by the legislature.  It is a strong first step but not a done deal, with litigation one possible route for opponents.  Virginia’s on-hold membership will likely be determined by the General Assembly elected next month.

PJM Territory

RGGI imposes a cap, trade and tax regime to force Virginia electricity generating plants to reduce their use of fossil fuels and emit less CO2.  An alternate way to meet RGGI goals is to buy fossil-fuel power from a non-RGGI state.  That is easy for Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power Company to do through their membership in the regional energy market PJM Interconnection LLC, which reaches west across Ohio to Illinois.  It will be less easy with Pennsylvania now in RGGI (and possibly competing for those non-RGGI electrons from elsewhere in PJM).  It is not clear what impact the larger trading pool for CO2 allowances will have on the carbon tax at the heart of the RGGI process, $5.20 per ton at the September auction.

Will the Number of “Threatened” Medicaid Recipients Keep Growing?  Following the recent legislative dust up over Virginia’s nascent work or training requirement for certain Medicaid recipients, the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis issued a new estimate.   As many as 74,000 Virginians could lose their health coverage, it told a reporter for WVTF.  It might be a bit more accurate to say those folks are unemployed but able to work, and would be required to do something about that to maintain their benefits.  Getting a job being just one of the options.  A year earlier, October 2018, the estimate from the same entity was that 21,000 would be forced to act or lose the benefit.  There is plenty of time to revise it higher by November 5.  The eligibility expansion numbers continue to grow, up to 321,000 now, but at a slower pace.

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22 responses to “Dems & Dom, RGGI Grows, Medicaid & Work”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Who are these folks who would lose their coverage for not working?

    The expansion provides Medicaid to those who DO work.

    So who is it that are not working and still get Medicaid?

    If you are able-bodied and not a caregiving -you cannot get Medicaid in Virginia as far as I know..

    Can someone post something concrete in actual words with a supporting link if that is not true?

    My impression of this is that it is more demagoguery by the GOP with help from their blogging supporters.

  2. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Expansion was one thing, the effort to impose a work or job training requirement another. The TEEOP process, if implemented, is across the board for all Medicaid recipients, not just those who were brought in by raising the income level to 138% of FPL. The ability to impose this requirement on the able-bodied and unemployed was added in January 2018, and the battle has been joined in several states ever since. The Commonwealth Institute link I provided has a outline.

    If you are Democrat, you will imagine we are talking about low-income single mothers of young children, who might be staying home rather than working. That was a key population for expansion, given their children usually are on Medicaid. If you are a Republican, you will imagine some healthy layabout who is just enjoying life on the dole, or working very minimally. If really interested, Larry, and not just spouting, dig into it yourself. It’s your team that says this is such a hardship, and keeps growing the estimate of those in danger of being “thrown off” by this “cruel” proposal.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    I did a little looking around and it seems what this is about is proving that you are employed – for the expansion – because under the original Medicaid you do not get insurance if you are able bodies unless you prove you are handicapped or a care giver for a child or handicapped or elderly.

    The big question is HOW do you PROVE you are employed – and how often do you have to prove again that you are?

    In other words, what proves you are employed -then you do get the coverage then you are unemployed – but you don’t report it.

    If this is the issue – it would have been immensely helpful to say that early on………….

    I can see that as an issue It’s also an issue with ACA in the same way – how do you prove – beyond the initial sign-up that your status remains the same – and therefore you are still qualified) ?

    That’s the big problem – and how the state deals with it – basically is a beaurecratic problem – you have to hire state workers to staff that function of continually verifying beneficiaries status.

    So I can see how the Dems would be fine just giving the insurance and not checking on it further -just like they do with Food Stamps – and I can see how the GOP doesn’t want to give benefits to people who could work but are slacking off… AND I’m pretty sure that TANF is fairly tightly regulated…

    So this is really a technical issue for the State to figure out how to do this in a cost-effective manner – that is being promoted in the public realm as a political issue – about providing health care to people who do not “work”.

    Take someone who works not as an employee of one company but perhaps as an independent contractor who works jobs as they come along… how would the state do this in a cost-effective manner?

    so what’s the answer beyond demagoguing the issue in the public realm at election time?

    This is my problem with the GOP – it’s not really an honest discussion but rather one of more state bureaucracy.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      Pay stubs with FICA and other witholding indicated?

  4. I agree it isn’t clear what the impact of a larger RGGI zone in PJM, due to adding Pennsylvania, will be on the monthly auction price for a carbon credit. These credits are sold by low/zero carbon emitters and purchased by high carbon emitters located within the RGGI zone. If Pennsylvania adds more low carbon emitters than high emitters, that will tend to lower the auction price for credits. If units in the remaining areas of PJM not in RGGI (primarily WV and the PJM portions of OH, IL IN and NC) have predominantly low carbon emissions, they won’t be selling credits; or if high carbon emitters, they won’t be consuming credits. That cuts both ways for their owners, since there are some big dirty coal units in those states, but also some big nuclear units as well as a lot of wind generation and some solar as well.

    It’s misleading to say, “An alternate way to meet RGGI goals is to buy fossil-fuel power from a non-RGGI state.” Dominion’s retail sales subsidiary, for example, has no choice what units in PJM will be dispatched to serve its customers. PJM dispatches the lowest cost units PJM-wide, and completely ignores (at present) their carbon output. If a dirty coal unit in Ohio is the next higher unit in the economic ladder, then PJM will dispatch it next as the total load in PJM grows — period. RGGI doesn’t affect that. The FERC is working on how PJM could change its dispatch rules to reflect the cost of carbon (plus for emissions, minus for credits), but it’s very complicated politically and the FERC rulemaking is far from finished.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” PJM will dispatch it next as the total load in PJM grows — period. RGGI doesn’t affect that. The FERC is working on how PJM could change its dispatch rules to reflect the cost of carbon (plus for emissions, minus for credits), but it’s very complicated politically and the FERC rulemaking is far from finished.”

    well that sorta sounds like RGGI does not “work” in the PJM region, no?

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      On PJM, most utilities are quite willing even eager to reduce their CO2 in respnse to customer wishes, the coal plants are dying of economic causes, and I don’t even see the RGGI goals as much of a challenge. This will be figured out. But if the state keeps the money and spends it elsewhere, ’tis a tax…..

      1. I do not really feel RGGI has ever accomplished anything. They were trying to figure out why RGGI was not working when the bottom dropped out of nat gas prices and then carbon emissions went down. Now we hear RGGI brought that change about…not really.

      2. djrippert Avatar

        This is a tax, pure and simple. How could it be considered anything else?

    2. “[I]f the state keeps the money and spends it elsewhere, ’tis a tax…..” Precisely! And since it isn’t going to be reimbursed proportionately to those who pay it, it is at the very least a redistribution of utility revenue even if spent on germane causes like customer energy efficiency measures.

      I disagree, Larry, that RGGI “does not ‘work’ in the PJM region.” It works there as well as anywhere, maybe even better than in New England where the movement started and all the states in the region participate. It accomplishes one thing right away: it sends a price signal to generator owners that you can make a little more money than you would have off non-carbon-emitting generation; that may help steer decisions about what kind of generation to build in the future, and what to retire early. (That price signal comes today from the separate purchase and sale of emissions credits, but could someday be integrated into the wholesale market price directly.)

      You have to ask, what else is RGGI good for — other than to demonstrate that a lot of people could live with, indeed want to impose on themselves, a cap-and-trade mechanism nationally; that a lot of people are willing to pay to do something about climate change (even if what they do accomplishes very little in the short run). That’s all it is, a demonstration. Its purpose is to commence a regional carbon pricing scheme that its supporters believe ought to be a federal, nationwide scheme (but that’s way off in the distance under current circumstances).

      Our GA wants to confiscate those revenues for unrelated expenditures, in lieu of raising taxes, leaving the anti-tax legislators free to say “this isn’t a tax; but if those liberal fools want to donate a surcharge on their utility bills to the general Treasury, so be it.” What RGGI revenues are used for in New England is to fund things like better insulation for homes and promotional payments for distributed solar. You be the judge what’s appropriate in Virginia.

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    On the Medicaid work requirement. This is an issue with the ACA also in that people receive subsidies for ACA insurance based on their income and if their income changes than the amount of the subsidy changes and in the ACA case if they do not report that change – then it can become an issue at tax time since the subsidies have to be reconciled. They are known as Premium Tax credits, and they are a royal pain in the butt for the tax preparer as well as not fun for the taxpayer when they find out they owe money.

    So the same thing can happen with Medicaid – they qualify when they sign up but then their income can change and when it does it can affect their eligibility.

    But in order to fix this – you’d have to staff a new state office to receive these income updates and then act on them.

    I understand the rationale and I actually agree with the premise but those that want this want the Feds to pay for it instead of the State and I guess that’s an issue but the Feds DO pay for this function under the ACA. You call a number, you identify yourself and your account and then you give the update, and then they adjust the subsidy.

    But again, that’s not what is coming across in the public realm on this.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      What, you expect a quiet, respectful and reasonable discussion about Medicaid four weeks before an election? 🙂 Medicaid eligibility is a topic on JLARC’s agenda Monday morning. Planning to go for BR….

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Good and I for one do appreciate your commitment – time and energy to get the facts. But a tiny request – can you temper the GOP viewpoint a bit? All this time – despite a mountain of words – it’s never really been made clear EXACTLY what the GOP issue is with the “work requirement” and it has come across sounding like people will be allowed to get Medicaid without working as if they can sign up without proving they are employed and that’s a flaw with the expansion and the GOP agreed to it ONLY if it were “fixed”. Well what are the specifics and what exactly does the GOP want as a “fix”? Plain English not their demagogue special.

        This is what I think is a REAL and useful function of your commentary – i.e. slough off the cloaked rhetoric to misinform and mislead folks and appeal to their respective bases (both Dem and GOP) and get to the specifics and the actual points of conflict when one or the other party opposes something.

        I have hope because you have pretty much done that with Dominion… so I know that you do have the ability to not be misled by the lobby types….

        I’d like to see your moniker in BR be – “cut the crap Hayner” !!!

    2. djrippert Avatar

      Why is this any different than SNAP? SNAP is supposedly hunger insurance. It’s a form of welfare. Medicaid is medical insurance welfare.

      States administer SNAP as I recall. Why is adding a work requirement so hard when SNAP beneficiaries have to prove they are not working to receive SNAP?

  7. Pennsylvania is a big power exporter in the region, so I guess there may be good opportunity to shift from coal to nat gas, reduce carbon, and still maintain their export base. If I am West Virginia, I am thinking I have just been appointed King of the PJM power exporters, forever.

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    The thing is that people who MAY BE eligible for the Medicaid Expansion that are able-bodied do not qualify for basic Medicaid – never have in Virginia – may qualify in other states – depending on their rules.

    The problem is that people who work but at low end jobs – may not stay at those jobs for a career or even for months or years. Some of those jobs are not “good” jobs with “good” benefits and some of the people who work those jobs are not “good” employees with good educations and skills so there is “churn” and chaos.

    So they sign up for the expansion when they have a job but they may well quit that job subsequently – and may or may not find another job, different employer, perhaps different pay… and just like with the ACA they have a responsibility to report the changes but folks at that level may not be as responsible as they should be – which can be part of why they are not good employees to start with.

    So what do you do about this?

    What do the Republicans want to do about this?

    If someone bounces from one job to another , barely surviving – should they be eligible for the Expansion?

    Would we deny insurance to those at the bottom tiers because their employment history is checkered and low-paying?

    I suspect some Dems would say – we give them insurance and I suspect some GOP would say – just deny it because they’re gaming the system for benefits- that they really don’t deserve in the first place.

    My only question is what happens when they show up at the hospital with a $75,000 illness (that could have been prevented) ? You’re not going to get the money from them and the hospital is going to do whatever they have to do to recover than loss from others – which will increase THEIR insurance premiums.

    This is sort of like a game of wac-a-mole… but so far, in the end, those who are employed and taxpayers will pay – unless and until we pass a law that allows hospitals to turn away people who cannot pay.

  9. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    I’m pretty sure readers tire of the Larry and Steve show in these strings (and stop reading….) I won’t take 1000 words to answer all that. Two points: It is not the GOP that has a problem with asking able bodied Medicaid recipients to be on a path to work, but the Democrats. But my main issue is with the Democrats who made a compact on the issue in order to get votes, and now seem to be retreating from the agreement. Second point, yes, your knee jerk attacks on Republicans and conservatives has elicited a partisan response on my part. ‘Tis the season. Four weeks from tonight they will be setting up the polls.

  10. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Steve. May i make a friendly suggestion? Could you please name the new pr guy not just link to the rtd? I often read BR on my cell and i have access digitally to the rtd on my desktop but can never remember the passcodes and there’s a paywall. Txs

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      Grant Neely. It was in the printed edition, too. Added the name above, too. I hate paywalls. You are right, I cannot assume readers can use the links, especially to newspapers.

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        Everybody seems to hate paywalls. But, Steve, you, as a former reporter, should support them. After all, newspapers are a business and are not sustainable if they give away their product free.

        1. Steve Haner Avatar
          Steve Haner

          Understood. But it is the loss of ad revenue which has killed the industry, in a feedback loop with lower readership. Online readership is a poor substitute for paid subscriptions, but ad buyers do care about it.

  11. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Dick, after seeing what rtd management has done to some very good journalists over the past 20 years i honestly don’t give a shit for their revenue. They already got their payout

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