Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praised the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill as a ‘progressive victory’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) passes through the National Statuary Hall January 9, 2020 at the U.S. Capitol.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praised the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package announced by Senate Dems on Tuesday.
  • It would stand with the $579 billion infrastructure deal that President Biden struck with the GOP last month.
  • Without progressive lawmakers, she said, “we probably would be stuck with that tiny, pathetic bipartisan bill alone.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praised the $3.5 trillion infrastructure package passed by Senate Democrats, calling it a “progressive victory.”

Earlier this week, Senate Democrats agreed on a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package to expand Medicare and strengthen social-safety-net programs, skirting GOP opposition to using more federal spending.

The New York congresswoman said she would have liked a larger package but billed the agreement as an “enormous victory,” according to NY1 reporter Kevin Frey.

“This bill is absolutely a progressive victory,” she said. “If it wasn’t for progressives in the House, we probably would be stuck with that tiny, pathetic bipartisan bill alone.”

The $3.5 trillion package would stand with the $579 billion bipartisan infrastructure deal that President Joe Biden struck with Republicans last month, and the party-line agreement would amount to $4.1 trillion.

“This is the most significant piece of legislation since the Great Depression, and I’m delighted to be part of having helped to put it together,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, told reporters on Tuesday evening.

Senate Democrats expressed confidence that the package would be turned into a bill in the coming weeks, which would make it one of the largest spending bills ever taken up by Congress.

“We are very proud of this plan,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday following the negotiations. “We know we have a long road to go.”

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Chamath Palihapitiya-backed Clover Health surges 36% after adding former Trump official to its board of directors

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Chamath Palihapitiya.

Chamath Palihapitiya’s Clover Health surged as much as 36% on Friday after adding former Trump official Demetrios Kouzoukas to its board of directors.

Kouzoukas served as director of the Center for Medicare and the principal deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the last four years during the Trump administration.

Vivek Garipalli, Clover’s CEO, said in a statement that Kouzoukas “understands the opportunity and challenge of operating at scale” and that “he has an encyclopedic knowledge of Medicare rules and regulations, combined with an incredibly astute business and strategy acumen,” per Yahoo Finance.

The addition of Kouzoukas is big news for Clover Health because much of the company’s ambitious growth plans rely on the CMS’ direct-contracting program, according to a pitch to investors which was presented before Clover’s $3.7 billion deal with one of billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya‘s SPACs in January.

In that pitch, Clover said it expects to manage up to $1.1 billion in medical expenses and care for 200,000 seniors through the direct contracting program in 2021, and predicted that figure will grow to 450,000 seniors by 2023.

The company also plans to increase its membership nearly five-fold this year as a result of the new federal program meant to lower costs for Medicare and encourage risk-sharing.

The direct-contracting program kicked off April 1 and 53 entities were included as Direct Contracting Entities, including Clover Health.

Now, with the addition of Kouzoukas to the board, investors could be thinking that Clover’s expectations to care for 200,000 seniors and manage over $1 billion in medical expenses through the CMS program are set to become a reality.

However, despite the recent rise in share prices, Clover Health is still trading below well below its Nasdaq opening price of $15.30. It has traded below that price since a high-profile short-seller report from Hindenburg Research that alleged the company is a “broken business” facing an active, undisclosed DOJ investigation.

The law firm Wolf Popper LLP echoed many of the claims in that report on March 18 when it filed multiple federal securities class action lawsuits in the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee against Clover Health.

The law firm said Clover Health has made repeated “false and misleading statements” to investors.

Clover Health also posted a net loss of $91.6 million on revenue of $673 million in 2020, according to its SEC filings.

Still, the firm does have some support from analysts at CitiBank who hold a “buy” rating and a $19 price target for the stock.

Clover Health traded up 26.94% as of 1:11 p.m. ET on Friday.

Clov chart
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Trump left Biden $1 billion to spend on healthcare enrollment efforts, new report finds

Trump Biden
  • A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the administration of former President Donald Trump left $1 billion in unused healthcare enrollment spending.
  • President Joe Biden plans on issuing an executive order on Thursday to expand enrollment efforts in the Affordable Care Act, rolling back Trump’s healthcare actions.
  • Although some of Biden’s healthcare proposals require congressional approval, the availability of unspent funds will assist in carrying out his executive orders. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Former President Donald Trump significantly reduced spending on enrollment efforts in the Affordable Care Act, leaving President Joe Biden with around $1 billion in unused funds to spend on healthcare, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In a new report released on Monday, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that over fiscal years 2018-2020, the Trump administration reduced funding on key activities that support healthcare enrollment, including marketing and outreach, the website, and the federal marketplace call center. The unused funds over those years accumulated to over $1 billion, and Biden will likely use those funds to revamp enrollment efforts in upcoming executive actions.

“It appears that more than $1 billion in unspent federal user fee revenue has accumulated and could be used to invest in changes that would make it easier for consumers to enroll in health coverage,” the report states. 

According to sources familiar with the plan, Biden on Thursday will take actions to strengthen Medicaid and start an open enrollment period under the ACA, and as indicated in the report, Biden can use the leftover funds to further those goals. This comes in response to his predecessor’s weakening of Medicaid, which Biden consistently pledged to reverse.

Although some of Biden’s healthcare proposals will require congressional action, like expanding ACA subsidies, reforming the enrollment process can be done by executive action, according to the report, which is made easier by the leftover unspent funds.

“The availability of unspent, carryover user fee revenue could make possible immediate investments in marketing and outreach, support for enrollment assistance, and other improvements,” the report said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2.3 million more people became uninsured between 2016 and 2019, and with Trump declining to provide a special enrollment period for those who became uninsured during the pandemic, Biden said he would favor doing so.


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