Has Obamacare become a winning issue for Democrats?

Democrats were once reluctant to engage with attacks on the law. But in the midterms campaign, the tide has turned

Donald Trump would like to believe it’s all about him. And there is no doubt that the extraordinarily divisive US president has helped drive turnout on both sides of the midterm elections.

But after their catastrophe of 2016, when Hillary Clinton was criticised for lacking a clear message to compete with “Make America great again”, Democrats realised that a pure anti-Trump message would not be enough. Instead, many have maintained a laser-like focus on a single issue: protecting Americans’ healthcare.

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Trump officials move to restrict immigrants who use public benefits

Proposals mean permanent residence applicants could be judged a burden for receiving legal benefits like food aid

The Trump administration on Saturday said it would propose making it harder for foreigners living in the United States to qualify for permanent US residency if they have received public benefits such as food aid, public housing or Medicaid.

The proposed regulation from the Department of Homeland Security would instruct immigration officers to consider whether a person has received a range of taxpayer-funded benefits to which they are legally entitled in determining whether a potential immigrant is likely to become a public burden.

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Conservatives call for constitutional intervention last seen 230 years ago

Lawmakers push for ‘constitutional convention’ to restrict federal government – and it’s not as far fetched as it sounds

It’s been more than 230 years since America’s last constitutional convention, but there is growing confidence in some conservative circles that the next one is right around the corner – and could spell disaster for entitlement programs like medicare and social security, as well court decisions like Roe v Wade.

“I think we’re three or four years away,” said the former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn on Friday, speaking at the annual convention for American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) – a powerful rightwing organization that links corporate lobbyists with state lawmakers from across the country.

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Wayne Swan wins Labor presidency – question time live

Swan will take over as ALP president from Mark Butler after counting was completed on Monday. All the day’s events, live

Turnbull loses 34th Newspoll running
Tim Storer pleads for tax relief for low paid

Bill Shorten has responded to Wayne Swan’s election as ALP president:

It’s a great pleasure to congratulate Wayne Swan on his election as President of the Australian Labor Party

Just further to the Mediscare bill, here is some of what Christian Porter had to say in that URGENT press conference:

I just wanted to make three comments about the significance of this bill. The first is that the integrity of the Australian democratic system absolutely relies on the proposition that we have a clear, statutory statement of principle that it is a criminal act to use modern mass communications to deceive Australian voters, and that’s what the Mediscare bill does today.

The second point about this is that the new offence, which will make it a criminal act for anyone to impersonate or contend that they are acting on behalf of a Commonwealth body, will apply to a very broad range of Commonwealth bodies, from Commonwealth departments like the department of attorney-general to Commonwealth corporations like the NBN, right through to critical service delivery agencies of the Commonwealth such as Medicare, Centrelink and the NDIS.

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Michaelia Cash ordered to give evidence in AWU case – politics live

Labor MP Brendan O’Connor says the Coalition MP’s position is ‘untenable’ and the PM should consider her future. All the day’s events in Canberra, live

Topics being tackled in community affairs estimates today are private health insurance, the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and Medicare.

Senator David Leyonhjelm has asked health department staff about whether doctors who are authorised to prescribe RU486 for medical terminations could have their details listed online to make it easier for women to find them.

The department responds that doing so might breach privacy laws and be a criminal offence, and that there is nothing stopping doctors advertising that they are qualified to provide the medicine themselves. There are 1476 doctors registered to prescribe RU486 in Australia.

Leyonhjelm is told that even if a government-managed list of prescribing doctors was made available, the department would have to consider the cost to the community of continuously updating it.

The Greens are also considering their position on the family court changes:

Delays in the family court system should be addressed by more funding for the courts, legal aid and community legal centres, Greens Justice spokesperson Nick McKim says.

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Coalition’s ‘arbitrary’ tax cap will force future spending cuts, thinktank warns

Exclusive: Australia Institute says debates about funding what people need should not be decided by limits and targets

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The treasurer, Scott Morrison, describes it as the “speed limit” on taxes but a new paper says the Coalition’s 23.9% tax-to-GDP cap is an “arbitrary” limit that will push the government to make austerity cuts to fund new programs.

While a dramatic improvement in revenues has given the Coalition room to ditch the planned $8bn Medicare levy increase and offer income-tax cuts, the Australia Institute has warned in a briefing note that the combination of a limit on tax and a surplus target will necessitate spending cuts in future.

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Medicare change to give greater dialysis access to remote Indigenous Australians

Move is welcomed as a lifeline for the growing health crisis of Indigenous kidney disease

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The federal government has added dialysis services to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) to provide remote-living Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people better access to lifesaving treatment.

The sector has welcomed the move as a lifeline for the growing health crisis of Indigenous kidney disease, which has had to rely on private donations and fundraising to provide care because of inadequate government funding.

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Government ditches planned $8bn rise in Medicare levy

Scott Morrison will outline plans to forgo revenue intended to fund NDIS but says government can still fund program

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The Turnbull government will use the looming May budget to dump plans to increase the Medicare levy to fund the national disability insurance scheme, in a shift intended to reframe the tax debate before the next election.

Scott Morrison will use a speech to business economists on Thursday to confirm the about face on a measure the government outlined in the 2017 budget.

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Illinois primary election: anti-abortion Democrat wins close congressional fight

Seven-term incumbent Dan Lipinski faced first serious challenge from progressive Marie Newman, who has refused to concede

Incumbent Democrat Dan Lipinski won a narrow victory after a fierce challenge from progressive Marie Newman on Tuesday in Illinois’s third congressional district. With 95% of the vote reporting, Lipinski, one of the few remaining anti-abortion Democrats on Capitol Hill, edged out Newman by 51% to 49%.

A seven-term incumbent, Lipinski had not faced a serious challenge in a decade. However, in a district that backed Hillary Clinton by 15 points in 2016, he faced criticism not just for his views on abortion but his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and refusal to endorse Barack Obama in 2012.

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Norfolk Islanders go to UN to fight Australia over right to self-govern

Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson launches legal challenge on behalf of islanders, who say they are a distinct ethnic group

The international human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has launched a legal challenge with the United Nations on behalf of Norfolk Islanders, alleging the Australian government has placed islander’s culture and language at risk by revoking their right to self-govern.

The island – roughly halfway between Australia and New Zealand – had been governed by its legislative assembly since 1979, until the Australian government’s decision in 2015 to revoke its autonomy. Australian federal and state laws are now enforced and islanders are now entitled to Medicare and other government services. Travelling between the island and Australia no longer requires a passport.

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