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Thursday, August 6, 2020

5 Million Essential and Front-line Workers Get Health Coverage Through Medicaid [feedly]

5 Million Essential and Front-line Workers Get Health Coverage Through Medicaid

With millions more Americans now jobless or experiencing sharp income losses due to the COVID-19 economic crisis, the need for Medicaid coverage is growing. Meanwhile, a major state budget crisis has already driven some states to cut Medicaid and other health programs. With states beginning to exhaust their options to avoid budget cuts, more states will likely make harmful Medicaid cuts unless federal policymakers provide additional Medicaid funds for them and maintain strong protections for Medicaid enrollees. Some 5 million Medicaid enrollees who work in essential or front-line industries would be among those who stand to lose if states cut Medicaid or if beneficiary protections are weakened, our analysis of Census data shows.

Medicaid is a crucial source of health coverage for workers in essential or front-line industries — people with jobs that may require them to show up for work during the pandemic regardless of stay-at-home orders or other restrictions, such as hospital workers, home health aides, food manufacturers, grocery store workers, farm workers, pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacy workers, bus drivers and truck drivers, and warehouse workers. Many low-income workers in these jobs are not offered job-based coverage or can't afford the premiums for it.

Using Census Bureau data, we estimate the number of workers in these types of jobs enrolled in Medicaid in 2018, the most recent year for which data are available. As explained in more detail here, we categorize people as working in an essential or front-line industry if they work in specific industry categories. The definition is imperfect in that it undoubtedly includes some workers who were furloughed or are working remotely while excluding others who have been required to be physically present at work during the pandemic. But, we believe, it provides a reasonable window into health coverage for workers in jobs that potentially put them on the front lines of the pandemic.

5 Million Essential Workers Get Health Coverage Through Medicaid

About 5 million people in essential or front-line industries are enrolled in Medicaid, we estimate, including nearly 1.8 million people working in front-line health care services and 1.6 million in other front-line and essential services including transportation, waste management, and child care. (See figure.) Nationwide, 10 percent of all — and nearly 1 of every 3 low-income — essential or front-line workers are enrolled in Medicaid.

These workers are more than twice as likely to have Medicaid coverage — and 42 percent less likely to be uninsured — if they live in one of the 37 states and the District of Columbia that have expanded Medicaid to low-income adults. (See table.) Another 650,000 essential or front-line workers who are currently uninsured would be eligible for Medicaid coverage if the remaining states adopted the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, we estimate.

The stakes are high for Medicaid as the President and Congress negotiate another economic relief bill. Unfortunately, the Senate Republican proposal doesn't include additional increases in the federal share of Medicaid costs (the federal medical assistance percentage, or FMAP), which states need to avoid harmful cuts. And Republicans may seek to weaken important maintenance-of-effort protections, enacted in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in March, that prevent states from cutting Medicaid eligibility or taking away people's coverage during the public health crisis.

A final relief bill that weakens these protections or doesn't provide additional Medicaid funding could hurt millions of essential and front-line workers who are sacrificing to help the nation through the pandemic.

Millions of Essential or Front-Line Workers Are Enrolled in Medicaid

State did not expand Medicaid by 2018

n/a We do not report estimates that are based on an unweighted sample of fewer than 40 people.

Source: CBPP analysis using the Census Bureau's 2018 American Community Survey. Estimates are rounded to the nearest hundred and the nearest percent. "Low-income" is defined as family income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. "Essential/front-line workers" are defined as those currently working in any of the following industry categories: essential food production, essential manufacturing (including medicine), essential public services (including civic and public safety), essential transportation, essential utilities, essential warehousing, front-line health care services, front-line retail, and front-line services (including transportation and child care).

Millions of Essential or Front-Line Workers Are Enrolled in Medicaid
StateEssential/front-line workers enrolled in Medicaid% of all essential/front-line workers enrolled in Medicaid% of low-income essential/front-line workers enrolled in Medicaid
United States5,009,80010%29%
Medicaid expansion states4,175,50012%37%
Non-expansion states834,3005%15%
District of Columbia*17,70019%59%
New Hampshire*17,4008%38%
New Jersey*133,2009%32%
New Mexico*57,60022%47%
New York*553,70018%49%
North Carolina85,6006%16%
North Dakota*7,3005%21%
Rhode Island*23,20014%48%
South Carolina46,3006%18%
South Dakota9,0005%14%
West Virginia*39,30015%41%

n/a We do not report estimates that are based on an unweighted sample of fewer than 40 people.

* These states adopted the Medicaid coverage expansion to low-income adults no later than 2018.

** These states adopted the Medicaid coverage expansion after 2018 and so the data are not reflective of current Medicaid participation among essential or front-line workers.

Source: CBPP analysis using the Census Bureau's 2018 American Community Survey. Estimates are rounded to the nearest hundred and the nearest percent. "Low-income" is defined as family income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. "Essential/front-line workers" are defined as those currently working in any of the following industry categories: essential food production, essential manufacturing (including medicine), essential public services (including civic and public safety), essential transportation, essential utilities, essential warehousing, front-line health care services, front-line retail, and front-line services (including transportation and child care).

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NY times China Bullshit #100

By Mark Mazzetti, David E. Sanger and William J. Broad

This theory has the same factual foundation that MY "theory" of COVID -- that it is an alien intervention intended to trigger an evolutionary mutation of the human species worldwide.

Remember  "yellow cake" and "lets invade Iraq?, and a hundred other planted CIA/NSA garbage leaks in the NYTimes? Here is another.

U.S. Examines Whether Saudi Nuclear Program Could Lead to Bomb Effort  
Aug. 5, 2020

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American intelligence agencies are scrutinizing efforts by Saudi Arabia to build up its ability to produce nuclear fuel that could put the kingdom on a path to developing nuclear weapons.

Spy agencies in recent weeks circulated a classified analysis about the efforts underway inside Saudi Arabia, working with China, to build industrial capacity to produce nuclear fuel. The analysis has raised alarms that there might be secret Saudi-Chinese efforts to process raw uranium into a form that could later be enriched into weapons fuel, according to American officials.

As part of the study, they have identified a newly completed structure near a solar-panel production area near Riyadh, the Saudi capital, that some government analysts and outside experts suspect could be one of a number of undeclared nuclear sites.

American officials said that the Saudi efforts were still in an early stage, and that intelligence analysts had yet to draw firm conclusions about some of the sites under scrutiny. Even if the kingdom has decided to pursue a military nuclear program, they said, it would be years before it could have the ability to produce a single nuclear warhead.


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Saudi officials have made no secret of their determination to keep pace with Iran, which has accelerated since President Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledged in 2018 that his kingdom would try to develop or acquire nuclear weapons if Iran continued its work toward a bomb.

Last week, the House Intelligence Committee, led by Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, included a provision in the intelligence budget authorization bill requiring the administration to submit a report about Saudi efforts since 2015 to develop a nuclear program, a clear indication that the committee suspects that some undeclared nuclear activity is going on.

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The report, the provision stated, should include an assessment of "the state of nuclear cooperation between Saudi Arabia and any other country other than the United States, such as the People's Republic of China or the Russian Federation."

An article in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday said that Western officials were concerned about a different facility in Saudi Arabia, in the country's northwest desert. The Journal said it was part of a program with the Chinese to extract uranium yellowcake from uranium ore. That is a necessary first step in the process of obtaining uranium for later enrichment, either for use in a civilian nuclear reactor or, enriched to much higher levels, a nuclear weapon.

An image taken May 27 showing, top right, two square buildings that some analysts think could be a Saudi nuclear facility. It is located near the Solar Village, bottom left. Credit...Maxar Technologies/Google Earth

Saudi Arabia and China have publicly announced a number of joint nuclear projects in the kingdom — including one to extract uranium from seawater — with the stated goal of helping the world's largest oil producer develop a nuclear energy program or become a uranium exporter.

Intelligence officials have searched for decades for evidence that the Saudis are seeking to become a nuclear weapons power, fearful that any such move could result in a broader, destabilizing nuclear arms race in the Middle East. So far, Israel is the only nuclear weapons state in the region, a status it has never officially confirmed.

In the 1990s, the Saudis helped bankroll Pakistan's successful effort to produce a bomb. But it has never been clear whether Riyadh has a claim on a Pakistani weapon, or its technology. And 75 years after the detonation of the first nuclear weapon used in war — the anniversary of the Hiroshima blast is Thursday — only nine nations possess nuclear weapons.

But ever since the debacle of the Iraq invasion in 2003, based on faulty assessments that Saddam Hussein was restarting the country's once-robust nuclear program, intelligence agencies have been far more reluctant to warn of nuclear progress for fear of repeating a colossal mistake.

At the White House, Trump administration officials seem relatively unperturbed by the Saudi effort. They say that until the Iranian nuclear program is permanently terminated, the Saudis will most likely keep the option open to produce their own fuel, leaving open a pathway to a weapon.

But now the administration is in the uncomfortable position of declaring it could not tolerate any nuclear production ability in Iran, while seeming to remain silent about its close allies, the Saudis, for whom it has forgiven human rights abuses and military adventurism.

Mr. Trump and his top aides have built close ties to the Saudi leadership, playing down the killing of the journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi and enlisting the crown prince in so-far fruitless Middle East peace efforts.


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It also comes at a time when the Trump administration is aggressively taking on China on numerous fronts, like its handling of the novel coronavirus and its efforts to crack down on freedoms in Hong Kong. So far, the White House has said nothing about China's array of nuclear deals with the Saudis.

Spokespeople for the National Security Council and the C.I.A. declined to comment. A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Late Wednesday, the State Department said in a statement to The New York Times that while it would not comment on intelligence findings, "we routinely warn all our partners about the dangers of engagement with the P.R.C.'s civil nuclear business," referring to the People's Republic of China, "including the threats it presents of strategic manipulation and coercion, as well as technology theft. We strongly encourage all partners to work only with trusted suppliers who have strong nonproliferation standards."

The statement also said that "we oppose the spread of enrichment and reprocessing," and that the United States would "attach great importance" to continued compliance by the Saudis to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It urged Saudi Arabia to conclude an agreement with the United States "with strong nonproliferation protections that will enable Saudi and U.S. nuclear industries to cooperate."

From the beginning of his administration, Mr. Trump has conducted negotiations with the Saudis over an agreement, which would require congressional approval, enabling the United States to help Saudi Arabia build a civilian nuclear program.

But the Saudis would not agree to the kinds of restrictions that the United Arab Emirates signed onto several years ago, committing the country never to build its own fuel-production ability, which could be diverted to bomb production. Administration officials say the negotiations have been essentially stalled for the past year.

Saudi Arabia's work with the Chinese suggests that the Saudis may have now given up on the United States and turned to China instead to begin building the multibillion dollar infrastructure needed to produce nuclear fuel. China has traditionally not insisted on such strict nonproliferation safeguards, and is eager to lock in Saudi oil supplies.


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Regional experts say part of the Saudi calculation stems from the view that the kingdom can no longer count on America's willingness to counter Iran.

That view gained more currency in the kingdom after the Obama administration signed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, known as the J.C.P.O.A. It forced Iran to give up 97 percent of its fuel stockpile, but left open a path to production in the future.

A Google Earth image taken on Jan. 11, 2014, showing buildings early in the construction process at the suspected nuclear facility.Credit...CNES/Airbus/Google Earth

"They believe that as a result of the J.C.P.O.A., they can't rely on anyone reining in the Iranians, and they are going to have to deter Iran themselves," said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former C.I.A. officer and director of intelligence and counterintelligence at the Energy Department.

The irony, Mr. Mowatt-Larssen said, is that Saudi Arabia has sought both civilian nuclear partnerships and defense agreements with two powers — Russia and China — that have deep economic ties to Iran.

Saudi Arabia has spent years developing a civilian nuclear program, and has a partnership with Argentina to build a reactor in the kingdom. But it has rejected limits on its own ability to control the production of nuclear fuel and it has been systemically acquiring skills — uranium exploration, nuclear engineering and ballistic missile manufacturing among them — that would position it to develop its own weapons if it decided to do so.

"It's never been in doubt," said Thomas M. Countryman, the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation from 2011 to 2017. "They see a value in having a latent capability to produce their own fuel and perhaps their own weapons."


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The Saudis have been relatively open about their interest in developing the ability to enrich uranium, a radioactive element that is a main fuel of both power reactors and nuclear warheads.

Last year, a document titled, "Updates on Saudi National Atomic Energy Project," posted by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or I.A.E.A., in Vienna, detailed a plan for building civilian reactors as well as fueling them through the "localization" of uranium production.

The same document said the kingdom was looking for uranium deposits in more than 10,000 square miles of its own territory (an area about the size of Massachusetts) and had teamed up with Jordan to make yellowcake, a concentrated form of uranium ore. Its production is an intermediate step on the road to enriching uranium into nuclear fuel.

The facilities under intelligence scrutiny have thus far not been declared to the I.A.E.A. The agency monitors compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which Saudi Arabia signed decades ago.

"The I.A.E.A. is unhappy with Saudi Arabia because they refuse to communicate about their existing program and where it is going," said Robert Kelley, a former inspector for the atomic agency and a former official at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

The site identified by American intelligence as possibly nuclear in purpose lies in a secluded desert area not too far from the Saudi town of Al-Uyaynah and its Solar Village, a famous Saudi project to develop renewable energy.

David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, analyzed commercial satellite images of the desert site.


Saturday, August 1, 2020

Bloomberg/AP: China Celebrates Completion of Rival Sat Navigation System [feedly]

China Celebrates Completion of Rival Sat Navigation System

Beijing (AP) -- China is celebrating the completion of its BeiDou Navigation Satellite System that could rival the U.S. Global Positioning System and significantly boost China's security and geopolitical clout.

President Xi Jinping, the leader of the ruling Communist Party and the People's Liberation Army, officially commissioned the system Friday at a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

That followed a declaration that the 55th and final geostationary satellite in the constellation launched June 23 was operating after having completed all tests.

The satellite is part of the third iteration of the BeiDou system known as BDS-3, which began providing navigation services in 2018 to countries taking part in China's sprawling "Belt and Road" infrastructure initiative along with others.

As well as being a navigation aid with an extremely high degree of accuracy, the system offers short message communication of up to 1,200 Chinese characters and the ability to transmit images.

Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the system is already in use in more than half the world's nations and stressed China's dedication to the peaceful use of space and desire to work with other countries.

"China is willing to continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in space and share the achievements of space development with other countries on the basis of mutual respect, openness, inclusiveness, equality and mutual benefit," Wang said at a daily briefing.

While China says it seeks cooperation with other satellite navigation systems, BeiDou could ultimately compete against GPS, Russia's GLONASS and the European Union's Galileo networks. That's similar to how Chinese mobile phone makers and other producers of technically sophisticated hardware have taken on their foreign rivals.

The official Xinhua News Agency said BeiDou is compatible with the three other systems but gave no details on how they would work together.

For China, among the chief advantages of the system, whose construction began 30 years ago, is the ability to replace GPS for guiding its missiles, especially important now amid rising tensions with Washington.

It also stands to raise China's economic and political leverage over nations adopting the system, ensuring that they line up behind China's position on Taiwan, Tibet the South China Sea and other sensitive matters or risk losing their access.

Key to China's success was the China Academy of Space Technology's development of rubidium atomic clocks that provide time and frequency standards for BDS satellites, Xinhua said.

It said the system was proof that attempts by Washington to impose a "tough hi-tech blockage" and crackdown on Chinese companies such as Huawei had failed.

"In spite of such measures, China's innovation capability has only grown stronger. Just as President Xi recently said at a symposium on China's economic work: 'No country nor individual can stop the historical pace of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," Xinhua said.

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Undocumented Workers, Shut Out From U.S. Aid, Run Out of Options [feedly]

Undocumented Workers, Shut Out From U.S. Aid, Run Out of Options

Undocumented workers in the U.S. are running out of options to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Largely left out of federal relief programs, undocumented families have relied on money from philanthropic organizations and local governments to help buy food and to pay their bills. But now some of those funds are drying up, exacerbating the public health crisis and further threatening an economic recovery that's become shakier with the recent surge in virus infections and a renewed wave of layoffs.

Programs backed by municipalities with support from community-based organizations in Minneapolis; Austin, Texas; Chicago; and Montgomery County, Maryland, are being halted or almost out of money. The programs, which have provided funds to help immigrants pay rent and other expenses, have not been able to keep up with such high demand.

In California, a statewide effort to give $1,000 per family stopped taking applications in June. Nonprofits face funding challenges themselves, with some donors potentially becoming more tightfisted as the pandemic lasts longer than many expected.

Undocumented immigrants in the U.S. often pay taxes but don't have access to unemployment insurance or benefits like the stimulus checks the government has provided to many Americans. The $2 trillion stimulus that Congress passed earlier this year denied aid to 15.4 million people in mixed-status families, including 9.9 million unauthorized immigrants, 3.7 million children and 1.7 million spouses who are U.S. citizens or green card holders, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

As Congress debates another round of financial support for Americans, House Democrats have proposed legislation that would give immigrants stimulus checks, but Senate Republicans -- who have offered a $1 trillion virus relief package -- oppose such aid.

Immigrant Economy

Undocumented immigrants participate in U.S. economy through work, taxes

Source: Population percentages from Pew Research Center 2017 data. Federal income tax from IRS 2014 data. State and local tax from Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy 2017 study.

Margarita, an immigrant from Mexico and single mother of three, was laid off in March from her job working at a warehouse in New Jersey that ships Italian products. She said she struggled to pay rent and feed her children, ages 20, 15 and 4. She returned to her job in June but has continued to work with advocacy groups calling on lawmakers to extend relief to undocumented immigrants. She declined to provide her full name due to her citizenship status.

"I've been out to marches and rallies, and banged pots and pans when we couldn't go outside," said Margarita, 39, who is a member of Make the Road New Jersey, a community group for immigrants. "No one should be left behind."

The mounting financial pressure on this group can impede efforts to contain the virus because they feel compelled to go to work when they are sick, according to Jill Campbell, director of the immigration and citizenship program at BakerRipley, a community development organization in Houston.

"We have clients that call us and say, 'I am terrified, terrified to go into work because I know that my coworkers have Covid right now but I have no other options,'" said Campbell, adding that because many immigrants live in multigenerational households they have a higher risk of spreading the virus to elderly family members.

"They're really choosing between their own health and their family's health -- and being able to pay the rent," she said.

Aiding immigrants throughout the pandemic is critical for the U.S. economic recovery because it means more people are working and spending money, said Cris Ramón, senior policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. About 4.6% of U.S. workers are undocumented immigrants, according to Pew Research Center.

Running out of funds

Austin's program to help these immigrants has run out of funding and no longer accepting applications after previously providing $1.4 million in financial assistance. St. Paul, Minnesota, and Chicago have also stopped taking applications to their programs.

Houston's $15 million rental assistance program ran out of money within two hours of starting to take applications in early May. Harris County, which includes the city, passed additional funding for its program this week as demand for relief persists.

Some organizations, including one in South Dakota and another in New Jersey, are still taking applications and raising money to support undocumented workers. But for those immigrants who do receive funds, it's likely a one-time payment that doesn't compare to unemployment benefits most Americans receive, said Muzaffar Chishti, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute.

Putting food on the table has been especially difficult during the pandemic, even for undocumented immigrants who are employed. Demand has increased 40% since March at Manna Food Center, a food bank in Montgomery County that serves immigrants, according to Chief Executive Officer Jackie DeCarlo. The area's emergency assistance program, which provided one-time payments of up to $1,450 to residents ineligible for federal aid, exhausted its funds in June.

Rocio, an immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico, was laid off from her job at a Sacramento, California, buffet restaurant in March. She and her husband support three children, as well as her 80-year-old father in Mexico. Rocio has turned to a community center for help with food and has delayed paying rent. She also declined to provide her full name because she fears legal repercussions.

"In three months our life changed," said Rocio, 50. "Covid has brought an end to many years and many dreams."

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