The Impact and Implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act:

Healthcare Lobbying

Effects on Medical Technology and Research Funding (Part I of IV)

In this four-part blog series, we will review the impact the 21st Century Cures Act will have on the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and insurance industries. We will discuss what this Act entails, how it will impact medical technologies, healthcare practices, patient safety, and research funding.

What Is the 21st Century Cures Act?

One of President Obama’s last acts before leaving office was to sign into law this Act, which passed both the House and Senate in December with unsurpassed bipartisan support, partly due to proactive healthcare and pharmaceutical lobbying efforts. The Act provides an overhaul of current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) processes and procedures for new healthcare devices and drugs and how they are currently approved.

Under previous guidelines, there were few, if any, provisions for fast-tracking a drug or new medical device, without the direct intervention of various government agencies and offices. Under the new Act, there will be special provisions in place to relax current requirements and make it easier to get certain medical devices and drugs through approval stages faster.

The Act calls to invest $4.8 billion into different research areas through the Nation Institutes of Health (NIH). Among these, former Vice President Biden was able to secure $1.8 billion for cancer research alone.

In addition, the Act gives the NIH permission to authorize financing for special circumstances, where there are high rewards for making advances in medical research, but which also come with high risks. In the past, funding for high-risk, high-reward research would require lengthy submissions to secure grants and other specialized funds through various agencies.

There are also a number of other areas where the estimated $6.3 billion in total funds tied into the Act are to be spent over of the next ten years, including:

  • The Precision Medicine Initiative will receive $1.4 billion. This program will collect genetic data from volunteers and help to further the development of new products, devices, and treatments.
  • The BRAIN Initiative will receive $1.56 billion. This project involves developing and implementing new technologies to map the human brain in greater detail to help develop a more comprehensive understanding of the brain’s functions and, eventually, develop new treatments for current brain-related ailments and diseases.
  • Over $1 billion in funding will be provided for addressing prescription drug abuse. The funding will be awarded to states that develop new programs to educate, prevent, and treat this growing type of drug addiction and substance abuse.

The 21st Century Cures Act also contains specific provisions for creating new employment opportunities at the United States Department of Health and Human Services, with positions focused on substance abuse treatment, substance abuse research, and mental health.

Pharmaceutical Lobbying

In Part II of our four-part blog series, we will review one of the key components of the Act that focuses on fast-tracking the development and approval of new medical devices and drugs. To learn more about lobbying or to retain the services of a Washington DC lobbyist to ensure your voice is heard by those who matter, please feel free to contact LobbyIt at 202.587.2736 today.

Source

1. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/21st-century-cures-act-congress-health-care-passed/

Trump Tax Reform: Tax Cuts on Corporations and the Wealthy – What This Means for America

During President Trump’s campaign for the Oval Office, he promised to overhaul the federal tax structure for both businesses and individuals with major tax reforms. In the past week, what is slowly starting to emerge is more of a tax relief plan, which could still deliver on campaign promises. Trump’s changes in the taxation structure do have several benefits and are not entirely focused on major corporations or the wealthy.

DC Lobbying Firms

Corporations

Currently, the corporate tax rate in the United States is one of the highest in the world. Trump’s tax plan calls to reduce the tax rate from 35% to 15%. However, some Republicans feel this is too deep of a cut and have countered with reducing it to 20%. Trump would also like to eliminate AMT (alternative minimum tax) for businesses. However, in exchange for reducing the tax rate, businesses would lose several deductions and would only be left with the research and development (R&D) tax credit for R&D conducted solely within the U.S.

Small and Medium Businesses

Small and medium businesses would also see tax rates cut to 15%, but could still end up paying a maximum of 25%, depending on their type of business structure. The AMT would also be repealed.

Individuals

For wealthy Americans, Trump’s tax cut plan calls to do away with the current tax bracket structures and cut these down to a total of three, based upon income. Individuals earning more than $112,500, and married couples earning more than $225,000, would have a tax rate of 33%.  For the middle class earning between $75,000 and $225,000, the new tax rate would be 25%. For those earning less than $75,000, the new tax rate would be 12%.

The standard deduction rates would also increase, but, in exchange, personal exemptions would no longer be allowed. For individuals, their standard deduction would increase to $15,000, up from the current $6,300. For married couples, their standard deduction would jump to $30,000, compared to $12,600 currently.

Other changes for individuals include:

  • Eliminating Net Investment Income Taxes
  • Creating Three Tax Brackets for Capital Gains (0%, 15%, and 20%)
  • Repealing AMT
  • Capping of Itemized Deductions ($100,000 or $200,000)
  • Repealing Estate Taxes

It will be interesting to see what tax reforms do take place. For individuals and married couples, the proposed changes could help further strengthen economic growth, as consumers will have more money to spend because they will be paying fewer taxes.

Direct Lobbying

However, part of the obstacle facing the new president is being able to develop a tax plan that brings relief while at the same time does not drive up the deficit. Finding this balance is also going to require getting support from within the parties of Republicans and the Democrats.

Businesses concerned about changes in tax laws should enlist the help of DC lobbying firms to ensure their concerns are heard. To learn more about what lobbyists are and how they can help your business, contact LobbyIt at 202-587-2736 today!

Inside Look: Senate Democrats Challenge Trump with a $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

One of President Trump’s campaign proposals was to repair America’s infrastructure and update our roads, railways, electric grids, airports, bridges, waterways, and pipelines. In light of this, Senate Democrats have put together their own proposal that is somewhat different from Trump’s $1 trillion plan.

Washington DC Lobbyists

There are several key differences between the two plans, and it is important to understand how each of the proposals would affect the general public. In addition, both plans call for investing $1 trillion over the next decade, not all up front. Let’s first take a look at President Trump’s plan and how he might deliver on his promise to upgrade our infrastructure.

Under President Trump’s plan, he would encourage the development of relationships between private and public infrastructure groups in hopes private organizations will invest the $1 trillion for the needed updates. The main benefit of this plan is it would mean the federal government would not need to allocate tax revenues or seek sources to fund the projects, but rather rely upon money from private firms to fund projects.

In exchange for their investments, the private firms would expect tax breaks and other forms of compensation. Aside from tax breaks, others forms of compensation could involve tolls or other user fees passed along to the general public. The main drawback, which could meet with resistance from Senate Democrats, is it would limit what projects were selected and those in lower income areas could be neglected.

The Democrats’ proposal would allocate government funding to help pay for improvement projects. The plan allocates funds to a wide range of potential projects and infrastructure areas, along with the creation of a new entity to regulate finances and funding of the projects, rather than rely on private investing.

The major appeal of the Democrats’ plan is it would allocate funding where it was needed the most and would not limit itself to only those types of projects private investors would consider.

Lobbying Firms

However, standing in the way of this plan are Senate Republicans. They are hesitant to invest federal funding into new infrastructure programs since they are worried about how it is going to increase the ever-growing deficit.

Even with this resistance, their plan lets the President and Republicans know they are willing to work with them on improving infrastructure, as long as it does not exclusively focus on private investments or excessive tax breaks.

If President Trump delivers on his campaign promise, an infrastructure plan that includes aspects of private and government funding, along with compromises by both Democrats and Republicans, is most likely to come about.

Regardless of what proposal you favor, there are various ways you can ensure your voice is heard on Capitol Hill. Private individuals are encouraged to participate in grassroots lobbying, which is letting their government officials know where they stand on this issue. A more direct option for businesses is to obtain help from LobbyIt by calling 202-587-2736 today!

The Future of Small Business Regulations Under a Trump Administration (Part II)

Small Business Future

In the previous segment, we reviewed how a Trump administration could impact small business owners with changes to Obamacare and the repealing of a few executive orders. In this segment, we will look at wages, taxes, and labor regulations.

Federal Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage has been a hot topic all throughout Obama’s presidency. The current rate is $7.25 an hour and has remained at this level since 2009. President Obama had tried on several occasion to increase the rate to $10 an hour but without any success, partially due to Washington lobbyists rallying for business owners. Now that Trump is taking office, there is debate about whether he will pursue an increase or not.

During his campaign, Trump had stated on several occasions minimum wage laws should be left to the states to decide, not the federal government. This stance is evident in over half of the states, where new minimum wage laws have taken effect or are being slowly implemented. However, Trump has made some indications he would agree to an increase up to $10 an hour.

Small Business Taxes

Trump has maintained his objective to reduce taxes for businesses of all sizes. He has mentioned a rate of 15% on numerous occasions. While this rate might sound great to medium and large businesses, most small business owners are already paying that rate or less. One concern, though, is that Trump was not clear about the 15% rate and whether it would be a flat rate for all or a capped rate.

If it is the former, then some small businesses could end up paying more taxes in cases where they are paying less than 15%. If it is the latter, and the rate is capped, it could help some small businesses that are currently above the 15% rate.

Regulations on Labor

The new overtime regulations began on December 1, 2016, which raised the cap on those eligible to earn overtime, up to $47,476 annually. Initially, this was the Obama administration’s way to deal with a $7.25 an hour minimum wage and help increase the earnings of those working overtime but earning higher salaries. This change in labor law impacts small businesses and forces them to either cut overtime hours or migrate employees at higher wage levels to salaried employees.

Washington Lobbyists

Under a Trump administration, it is anticipated he will address this new regulation and take steps to either repeal it or modify it in some form. For instance, in exchange for raising the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour, there could be a provision included that could reduce the annual salary cap.

It will be interesting to see what issues President-elect Trump pursues immediately after taking office and how these will affect and impact small business owners. For help ensuring your concerns are voiced to Congress and others that matter, contact LobbyIt now at 202.587.2736! We provide a wide range of lobbying services for small businesses.

Sources

  1. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/11/12/small-businesses-can-expect-policy-changes-under-trump/93608798/
  2. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/17/small-businesses-hope-for-deregulation-under-trump.html

The Future of Small Business Regulations Under a Trump Administration (Part I)

Small Business Regulations

Whether you supported Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, now is the time to start considering the impacts the Trump victory will have on small business regulations in the coming years. There are several key areas president-elect Trump has stated he would target if he won the election. Now that he has, it is worth looking at how changes to these areas could potentially impact small businesses in this two-part series.

In Part I, we will look at some of those issues Trump made it clear he intended to address after being sworn into office. In Part II, we will look at those issues which related to federal minimum wage laws, taxes, and labor regulations.

Obamacare and Trump

Trump has stated on numerous occasions he would repeal Obamacare, which is also known as the ACA (Affordable Care Act). However, this raises some concerns for small business owners. While the ACA has its pitfalls, it has helped millions of people, including small business owners, obtain affordable healthcare insurance. Doing away with Obamacare would seriously impact small businesses.

In addition, to have the ACA repealed, it would require a majority vote in the Senate, which means at least 60 Democrats and Republicans would have to vote yes. The likelihood of this happening is very improbable. Furthermore, the insurance companies have a strong presence through DC lobbying firms and would most likely fight any repeal since they have already invested a large amount of time, money, and effort to implement Obamacare.

It is also worth noting any changes to the ACA would not happen overnight. It would take a few years before any approved changes would take effect. So, in the short run, at least for the next two years, do not expect drastic changes to the ACA.

In the latest statements from Trump, he has varied his objectives about repealing Obamacare. Rather, he is now saying the ACA does have certain areas that need to be overhauled but has promised to keep in place the provision regarding pre-existing conditions and not being denied coverage.

Reversal of Executive Orders

President-elect Trump has stated he would reverse many of Obama’s executive orders once he takes office. Among these are two key ones that have a direct effect on small businesses:

  1. The EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) regulation of private lands’ bodies of water.
  2. Deportation of illegal minors.

Under Obama, the EPA has been allowed to regulate bodies of water on private land. By overturning this executive order, it would ease some of the current regulations and help certain small businesses. Reversing the second executive order could also help small businesses, as it would mean jobs that potentially could be filled at some point by illegal minors would not occur.

Future of Small Business

To ensure small businesses’ voices and concerns are heard by those that matter, remember, help is available from LobbyIt and our DC lobbyists. Call us at 202.587.2736 today for more information!

Source

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/11/12/small-businesses-can-expect-policy-changes-under-trump/93608798/

The Future of Labor Under a Trump Administration
(Part II)

Washington Lobbyists

In Part I of this two-part blog series, we started discussing how President Trump could influence and shape the future of labor and employment. Please feel free to review that segment, too, after reading this segment.

As previously mentioned in Part I, Trump does have certain executive powers he can use to influence labor policies. For changes in laws that do not have to be passed by Congress, as well as those which do not benefit public safety, he has mentioned he would create a new moratorium, where for every new labor rule or regulation, two existing rules or regulations must be dissolved.

This form of deregulation would essentially empower businesses to have access to additional revenue streams and allow them to reinvest in their operations, potentially create new jobs, and enable future growth.

One of the most important impacts Trump will have on labor and employment laws is the appointment of Supreme Court justices. During his time in office, he could easily have the opportunity to nominate and appointment as many as four new justices. The appointment of the new justices will have long-lasting effects on important labor issues reviewed and ruled upon by the Court.

In regards to OSHA, it is expected that Trump will loosen the reins of control the agency has had under the Obama Administration. Many anticipate Trump’s approach will be similar to those under President George W. Bush, where OSHA tended to lend assistance and developed cooperative programs.

One key area Trump is likely to address foremost, after taking office, is immigration. Trump has long been against illegal immigrants taking jobs away from others. It is expected that Trump will overturn Obama’s executive orders on immigration the moment he takes office, as well as implement steps to enforce existing laws.

In addition, Trump says he has plans to develop new controls to ensure qualified citizens have access to jobs currently being filled by illegal immigrants. Part of this plan will also include reforms to limit the number of legal immigrants being offered positions through current legal methods.

For labor unions, there could possibly be tough times ahead. While Trump has experience working with unions and developing positive relationships, it is not expected for all unions to be as open and accommodating, especially if he is loosening regulations and controls already in place designed to protect unions.

Employees and employers can expect some changes to occur quickly and swiftly after Trump takes office as our next president. However, other changes and reforms will take longer to implement if they require a new piece of legislation to be introduced.

Washington DC lobbyists

Last, do not forget the power Washington DC lobbyists can have, even on those issues that would oppose the reforms Trump wants to make. For more information about lobbying, call LobbyIt now, at 202.587.2736, and make sure your voice on labor and employment issues is heard.

Sources

  1. https://employerdefensereport.com/2016/11/07/clinton-or-trump-the-future-of-employment-law-and-workplace-safety-regulation/
  2. http://mhlnews.com/labor-management/what-trump-election-means-future-labor-and-workplace-regulation

The Future of Labor Under a Trump Administration
(Part I)

DC Lobbying Firms

With Donald Trump taking office as our next president, there is much anticipation by various lobbying firms as to how his presidency is going to impact a wide range of issues. In this two-part blog series, we will look at some of the potential changes President Trump could enact during his time in office. While some lobbyists are open to a Trump presidency, others have reservations about whether their issues will be heard.

However, it is important to remember, while the president does have certain executive powers, there are limitations as to the extent the president can use these. In addition, major changes and reforms to laws would need to be conducted through Congress with new bills being passed by both the House and Senate. Even though the Republicans have control of these two, they still need a majority.

Among the issues, the future of labor is one major area of concern. The future of employment and labor laws could be drastically changed under Trump. It is important to remember that Trump is a businessman and has first-hand experience with dealing with government rules and regulations, as well as their respective agencies.

During his campaign, Trump did not provide a concise employment and labor plan, other than stating he intended to help businesses generate around 25 million new jobs that would help stimulate economic growth, which he would like to grow at a rate of around 3.5% annually. Furthermore, he is supportive of providing six weeks of pay while on maternity leave.

In regards to the debate over increasing minimum wages, he has not been fully clear on his objectives. At one point, he did mention he would consider raising it to at least $10 per hour. During another instance, when questioned, he said he would like to do away with a federal minimum wage and make minimum wage laws the responsibility of the states.

One common theme, though, throughout Trump’s campaign, was reducing involvement by the federal government in regulating workplace rules and policies. Trump has long supported enabling businesses to have more power to determine their own policies and procedures. He avidly has stated that federal regulation results in what he refers to as overregulation and ends up costing $2 trillion annually to enforce.

DC Lobbying Firms

Trump has also mentioned on numerous occasions his intentions to reverse many of President Obama’s executive orders, not just in regards to employment and labor laws but others he put into effect during his eight years in office. Essentially, this would result in undoing most of what Obama attempted to accomplish during his time in office.

We invite you to continue reading more about the future employment and labor laws and regulations under a Trump presidency in Part II of this two-part blog series. To ensure your voice is heard by those who matter, do not hesitate to contact LobbyIt at 202.587.2736 and enlist our help today!

Sources

  1. https://employerdefensereport.com/2016/11/07/clinton-or-trump-the-future-of-employment-law-and-workplace-safety-regulation/
  2. http://mhlnews.com/labor-management/what-trump-election-means-future-labor-and-workplace-regulation

Climate Change and Lobbying: For or Against?

smokestacks

Ever since former Vice President Al Gore brought to light the effects of global warming and climate change, it has changed how people regard our eco-system and environment. While many businesses and politicians disregarded the Vice President’s research and how our carbon emissions and other bad habits could potentially bring about the destruction of our environment, others were more greatly concerned about protecting our planet for future generations.
Nonprofits started to form, and lobbying efforts to encourage and promote recycling were born. Awareness about how people could make their lives more “green-friendly” and reduce their carbon footprints started to become more abundantly available. Even businesses and corporations were encouraged to get on board, and the push for the paperless office movement began.

Even the federal government got involved after DC lobbyists started to inform lawmakers of public opinions. As a result, the federal government phased out the production of incandescent light bulbs, started setting aside money for research into alternative fuel and energy sources, and taking other steps to help promote a greener environment.

While there have been positive results for climate change by lobbying firms, there are others who are against regulations and reforms, as it would mean a change in how they do business. Mainly, businesses that are considered “brown,” or those that generate an excessive amount of carbon emissions in industries, include:

  • Petro, Oil, and Gas
  • Utility Providers
  • Automotive

Even though many businesses within these three industries spent the most on lobbying against reforms for climate change, there were still many operations that invested in lobbying in support of climate change reforms.

In fact, based upon research data collect from 2006 to 2009, the amounts invested by firms for lobbying efforts either for or against climate change was almost equal. The resulting spectrum was U-shaped, with those organizations that did not have much to gain or lose at the bottom of the spectrum.

reduced environmental impactOne of the main reasons a company within one of these three industries would support climate change is it would help provide them with a competitive advantage over other firms opposed to reforms. For instance, in the automotive industry, certain automakers in support of climate change could benefit if there were developing solar powered electric vehicles or other break-through technologies that were not reliant on fossil fuels.

Another example which would create a competitive advantage is if a petrol, oil, and gas company were to develop a synthetic form of gasoline.

One of the primary reasons “brown” operations oppose reforms is the cost the companies will incur to update and change how they do business. For instance, if new reforms are passed that ban certain chemicals, a company might have to discontinue a profitable product line.

As you can see, there can be valid points made by both “green” and “brown” organizations about why they are either for or against reforms to climate change regulations and laws. To ensure your voice and position on climate change is heard on the Hill, do not hesitate to call Lobbyit at 202.587.2736 today.

Source

  1. https://hbr.org/2016/10/research-whos-lobbying-congress-on-climate-change

Lobbying Firms Want Reforms to Obamacare

lobbying for reform

The recent announcement that the costs of Obamacare are expected to increase significantly in the coming year has some people worried. Initially, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was meant to make insurance affordable for millions of Americans. However, since its launch, insurance costs have slowly increased.

In order to offset the small increases in premiums, the federal government increased the subsidy amounts qualified people received. Unfortunately, this was only a “Band-Aid” that did not address the underlying problems with the program. As a result, lobbying firms and lobbyists are pushing for reforms to Obamacare in efforts to encourage improvements within the program, while at the same time addressing the increase in insurance premiums.
Another problem with the current ACA system is each state was tasked with providing plans and coverage through various providers. As a result, providers in every state are able to set the costs for coverage. For instance, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is proposing a 50% increase in premiums in New Mexico for 2017. Yet, in other states, BCBS premium increases are not expected to be as significant, though BCBS has proposed a 30% increase in four other states.

Lobbyists working for insurance companies state the reasons for the increased premiums is largely due to having access to better data about the types of illnesses and services people require, which they did not have prior to the start of the ACA. With more people seeking healthcare services, healthcare providers have also increased the rates they charge to offset the allowable amounts most plans provide.

For example, a typical office visit to an in-network provider was billed at $75 to a patient’s insurance a few years ago. Today, regular office visit rates are now $150 or more, depending on where the patient resides. Even though providers rarely get the full amount they bill for office visits, allowable limits have crept up, too.

Further fueling the increased insurance premiums are the drastic increases in prescription medications. Pharmaceutical companies have significantly ramped up the costs for a wide range of medications in recent years. While an insured person does not notice this increase, as their co-pay may have only changed a few dollars, the insurance companies are being hit with paying the increased costs.

For instance, if a prescription previously cost $150 a month before Obamacare, it is not uncommon to see that same medication being billed to insurance companies by as much as $400 for a 30-day supply. It is for these reasons and others that reforms are needed—and quickly.

Obtaining the necessary reforms and modifications to the ACA could prove challenging in the current Republican-controlled congress. Many Republicans have decided they do not intend to take action on any reforms until after the election on November 8th since Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has stated on numerous occasions, if elected, he plans on dismantling Obamacare.

lobbyists want healthcare reformHowever, at least for 2017, President Obama is pushing for increased tax credits to help offset the latest premium increases, pending potential reforms to the ACA before 2018.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Obamacare pending the outcome of the presidential election. In the meantime, for assistance with lobbying efforts, and to ensure your voice and that of your business is heard, contact the experienced lobbyists at Lobbyit today at 202.587.2736.

 

 

 

 

Five Reasons to Lobby for Your Cause

lobbying for good cause

You might think only big businesses rely upon lobbying firms to help lobby for their causes. However, people and businesses of all sizes can utilize lobbying efforts to ensure their opinions and voices are heard by lawmakers and politicians. Lobbying is an essential part of our democratic system and can help bring about change.

Whether you are a small business owner or part of an association, operate a nonprofit, are a university board member, or want to ensure your local municipality obtains federal funds, there are many reasons how lobbying can benefit you.

lobby for a good cause

  1. Lobbying Helps Influence Laws – Laws help bring about change, and people and groups of all sizes, with the support of lobbying firms, have brought about reforms to child care, social security, and the environment.
  2. The Work of One Can Make a Difference – All it takes is one person to initiate awareness about an issue and find others with the same ideals to start to bring about change. Whether it is something you are personally struggling with or a proposed change in the law you disagree with, your efforts are important and they matter. Reforms to child support laws across the country began with the efforts of a lone single mother.
  3. Politicians and Lawmakers Rely upon Input for Lobbyists – Public opinion about politics is often shaped by the amount of information and awareness provided by lobbyists. In turn, politicians and lawmakers listen to information they receive from lobbyists to help them make decisions. In addition, lobbying efforts help determine how federal and state budgets are developed and where the funds are spent.
  4. One Person’s Efforts Lead to People and Groups Working Together – As awareness of a cause is raised, it often leads to others with similar ideals and objectives. As people and groups start to form and combine their efforts, it brings about change. For example, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) came about after Candy Lightner founded the organization after a drunk driver hit and killed her daughter, Cari Lightner on May 3, 1980. Today, it is one of the most influential nonprofits that helps shape impaired and drunk driving laws nationwide. (Source: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/madd-founders-daughter-killed-by-drunk-driver)
  5. Lobbyists Help Create Real Solutions to Problems – Once a problem has been identified, lobbyists work with politicians and lawmakers to look for ways to resolve them, for the betterment of people. For instance, lobbyists made it possible for restaurants to donate food to homeless shelters and those in need in many areas where this was once against the law.

secure justiceWhile anyone can start lobbying efforts, it is often better to obtain help from a qualified lobbying firm, as there are specific guidelines, regulations, and reporting requirements. Plus, with the help of a lobbyist, your cause could grow and gather support more quickly. As it grows, the lobbyist is able to represent the entire group and their objectives. For more information about lobbying and what to do to get your voice heard by politicians and lawmakers, contact Lobbyit at 202.587.2736 now.