Monthly Archives

January 2018

Idaho Republicans Attempt Illegal Health Care Sabotage

Washington, DC – In response to the news that Idaho intends to allow insurance companies to sell plans excluding essential health benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act and again allow companies to discriminate against pre-existing conditions, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“With this proposal, Governor Butch Otter has put partisan politics and fealty to the insurance industry above the interests of the people of Idaho. This proposal opens the door for insurance companies to once again charge premiums based on Idahoans’ medical history, returning to the days of discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. It also waives the Affordable Care Act requirement that insurers must cover essential health benefits, which include maternity care, prescription drug coverage and hospitalization. These consumer protections are not only critical components of the Affordable Care Act, they are among its most popular provisions. Since Republicans began their war on health care, election result after election result has shown the American people don’t want more restrictions on their health care. This move is cruel, short-sighted and illegal. If newly-confirmed HHS Secretary Alex Azar cares about health of the American people, as he claimed during his confirmation hearing, he must block Idaho’s attack against the law of the land, the Affordable Care Act.”

Protect Our Care to Susan Collins: Do You Stand With Lisa Murkowski or Ted Cruz?

This afternoon, the Washington Examiner reported that Ted Cruz is calling on Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act through reconciliation, a partisan process which will result in millions losing their coverage, increased premiums and weaker protections for pre-existing conditions.

Senator Ted Cruz: “The biggest unfinished task is Obamacare. We need to finish the job.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski publicly objected to this.

Senator Lisa Murkowski: “I don’t think we should be spending time trying to do repeal and replace of ObamaCare.”

Senator Collins, do you stand with Ted Cruz or Lisa Murkowski?

SENATE HEALTH CARE FIREWALL HOLDS: Murkowski to Cruz: Drop Obamacare Repeal

Washington, DC – Following Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s statement that Republicans should not revisit their failed Affordable Care Act repeal quest in 2018, Protect Our Care Campaign Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“Senator Murkowski is right: Congressional Republicans need to move on from their war on health care and stop pushing partisan repeal bills. Enough is enough – it’s time for Republicans like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz to move on from their war on health care and start working on the bipartisan health care solutions that Americans want and deserve.”

Ted Cruz Vows to Continue the GOP War on Health Care. Will Other Republicans Go Along?

Washington, DC – Today, the Washington Examiner reported that Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told the paper in an interview that Republicans need to “finish the job” and repeal the Affordable Care Act through reconciliation, and that he has been meeting with GOP senators previously opposed to repeal. Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement in response: “Ted Cruz’s views on health care today are yet again wildly out-of-touch with the American public. Poll after poll has shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans prefer the Affordable Care Act over the GOP’s repeal agenda. Instead of listening to the American people and moving forward on bipartisan improvements to strengthen markets and lower premiums, however, Senator Cruz continues to push partisan repeal. It’s time to find out if other Republican senators agree with Ted Cruz that the GOP should continue its war on health care, the number one issue on voters’ minds an effort that will result in millions more losing their coverage, and leave everyone else with higher costs and weaker protections or if there is a better path forward. Will Senators like Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain succumb to pressure from the likes of Senator Cruz and lobbying from Senator Graham, further worsening the GOP’s standing with another secretive, partisan repeal process, or will they say enough is enough and call for an end to the GOP’s war on our health care?”

Protect Our Care Blasts Alex Azar Confirmation as HHS Secretary

Washington, DC – After the Senate voted to confirm Alex Azar as the Trump Administration’s Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“As the victims of the Trump Administration’s war on health care keep piling up, Senate Republicans just confirmed Big Pharma lobbyist Alex Azar to become President Trump’s sabotage sidekick at HHS. Throughout his confirmation process, Azar lied about the Trump Administration’s Affordable Care Act sabotage while embracing the Republican agenda to take coverage from millions of Americans, raise costs for millions more and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Even as Donald Trump and the GOP install an anti-ACA Big Pharma lobbyist to lead HHS, the American people continue to reject their harmful agenda. Nearly 9 million people signed up for coverage despite every obstacle this Administration threw at them, and the ACA is more popular than ever. Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to come to the table and work with Democrats on bipartisan measures to stabilize the marketplace and expand coverage, just as the American people have said they want. It’s time for Donald Trump, Alex Azar and Congressional Republicans to end their war on America’s health care.”

Oregon Becomes the Latest State to Reject the GOP’s War on Health Care

In response to the news that residents of Oregon approved Measure 101, a ballot measure which keeps in place a previously-passed legislative tax package to fund the state’s Medicaid expansion, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Tonight’s result shows that the American people are expressing vehement opposition to the Republican war on our health care. Oregon Republicans worked to put Measure 101 on the ballot, which could have denied health care to thousands of their fellow citizens; instead, Oregonians resoundingly defeated the Republican attempt to jeopardize funding for Medicaid expansion, showing yet again that voters value critical health care programs and reject Republican attempts to sabotage them. This vote follows similar election results across the country, from Virginia to Wisconsin, where health care has played a decisive role in the defeat of Republicans. Voters from coast to coast continue to make their support for Medicaid clear – Republicans who continue sabotaging health care should be wary.”

Republicans Must Finally Confront Trump’s Disastrous Handling of Opioid Crisis

Inaction + Funding Cuts = Sabotage

Washington, DC – After former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a member of President Trump’s Opioid Commission, said this Administration’s “efforts to address the epidemic are tantamount to reshuffling chairs on the Titanic,” and other leading advocates spoke out against the Administration’s nonresponse, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“With members of Trump’s own commission decrying the President’s non-response to the raging opioid epidemic, Republicans must finally face up to this Administration’s failure to confront the nation’s most urgent health care crisis. Despite his campaign-trail promises, Trump has done worse than nothing: his attacks on the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy are actively sabotaging Americans’ access to addiction treatment. Enough is enough: Congressional Republicans need to end their partisan war on health care, stand up against President Trump’s sabotage, and put their money where their mouths are on the opioid epidemic – or else admit that they are making this crisis worse.”

Opioid commission member: Our work is a ‘sham’

CNN // Wayne Drash and Nadia Kounang // January 23, 2018

The Republican-led Congress has turned the work of the president’s opioid commission into a “charade” and a “sham,” a member of the panel told CNN. “Everyone is willing to tolerate the intolerable — and not do anything about it,” said former Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who was one of six members appointed to the bipartisan commission in March. “I’m as cynical as I’ve ever been about this stuff.”

Trump has had a year to confront the opioid epidemic. He’s done almost nothing.

Vox // German Lopez //  Jan 23, 2018, 8:00am

If you listen to President Donald Trump’s words about the opioid epidemic, he seems to understand it’s an emergency. He declared it as one late in 2017. And he has repeatedly promised, as president and on the campaign trail, that he will do something about it — that he would “spend the money,” and that “the number of drug users and the addicted will start to tumble downward over a period of years.” If you look at Trump’s actions, well, it’s a very different story. There has been no move by Trump’s administration to actually spend more money on the opioid crisis. Key positions in the administration remain unfilled, even without nominees in the case of the White House’s drug czar office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). And although Trump’s emergency declaration was renewed last week, it has led to essentially no action since it was first signed — no significant new resources, no major new initiatives.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Changes Tune on Affordable Care Act in Election Year

Former Republican Presidential Candidate Sees Writing on the Wall for 2018

Washington, DC — In a sign of how dramatically the politics around health care have shifted, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, once an outspoken foe of the Affordable Care Act, has embraced a plan to strengthen the law in his state. The about-face comes soon after a national Protect Our Care poll showed that health care is a top priority for most voters going into the 2018 election cycle.

“Even ultra-conservative Scott Walker is finally facing facts: 2018 voters overwhelmingly prefer politicians who will work keep and improve the Affordable Care Act over candidates who support President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ unpopular sabotage-and-repeal agenda. Governor Walker should advise his Republican friends in Congress to face up to the writing on the wall and start supporting states’ efforts to improve the Affordable Care Act, instead of digging themselves a deeper hole by continuing to push partisan repeal bills and condone the Trump administration’s ongoing sabotage,” said Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse.

Walker, in Turnabout, Moves to Stabilize Insurance Market

AP // Scott Bauer

MADISON, Wis. — In a tack to the left in an election year, Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker announced Sunday that he wants a state law that would bar insurers from denying a person health coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

He also wants Wisconsin to join Minnesota, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska in obtaining a federal waiver to offer reinsurance, a move designed to lower premiums for people in the private insurance marketplace.

Walker said the steps are necessary because “Washington failed to act” on passing a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare” — in effect criticizing fellow Republicans who control Congress and the White House.

Democrats accused Walker of hypocrisy. He has been a consistent and vocal critic of the health care law, refused to participate in the federal marketplace and repeatedly advocated for the law’s repeal and replacement. He also previously suggested he might have Wisconsin opt out of the law’s pre-existing condition rules.

“Give me a break on this pivot,” Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz said. “The problem we’re trying to fix was self-inflicted by Governor Walker.”

By seeking a reinsurance waiver, Walker is taking a step to make the private marketplace in Wisconsin more stable and affordable for more than 200,000 people in it. He plans to use his State of the State speech on Wednesday to ask the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve the proposals this year, and said leaders are on board.

His ideas, including seeking a lifetime federal waiver for the state’s popular discount prescription drug program known as SeniorCare, have had bipartisan support in the past. Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach said he expected Democrats to largely support the measures.

“Obviously the governor’s done some polling and he’s finding out he’s on the wrong side of history on health insurance and health care,” Erpenbach said.

Walker has been embracing ideas originally championed in whole or in part by Democrats as he seeks a third term in November. Earlier this month he called for closing the state’s troubled juvenile prison, which Democrats have pushed for years. And last year, he gave public schools essentially the level of funding requested by state schools Superintendent Tony Evers, a Democrat running against him for governor.

Walker told reporters he’s simply “listening to people across the state. It doesn’t matter if they’re Democrat or Republican. I don’t think those are Democrat issues, those are Wisconsin issues. People care about them.”

He said his latest health plan addresses the concerns of people who buy insurance through their employers by guaranteeing that pre-existing conditions will be covered. Even though that’s currently federal law, Walker said it is important that the state guarantee it and provide peace of mind.

Last year, the state Assembly passed a bill that would have done just that. Walker called on the Senate to pass it in the coming weeks.

The state’s discount prescription drug program for those over age 65 has received a federal waiver since 2002. It serves 60,000 seniors a month. The waiver has been extended four times, most recently in 2015. Walker said a permanent waiver would give peace of mind to seniors who rely on the discounted medicine.

Erpenbach doubted such a waiver could be granted without a change in federal law.

Walker’s push to make SeniorCare permanent comes seven years after he proposed cutting membership by forcing enrollees to first sign up for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, with the state program only covering what the federal one did not.

That was rejected after a bipartisan outcry.

Walker’s other new federal waiver request to offer reinsurance addresses the roughly 200,000 people in Wisconsin who purchase health insurance on the private marketplace under the “Obamacare” law. Reinsurance, which has bipartisan support, basically sets up a pool of money for the government to cover the cost of insurers’ most expensive cases.

Walker estimated his plan would cost $200 million, with the federal government paying 75 percent. He said the state’s share would come from savings from the Medicaid program.

Walker said he expected the program to result in lower rate increases in 2019 and stabilize a market that recently lost several larger insurers including UnitedHealth and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. The state insurance office estimated that premium rates will increase an average of 36 percent this year.

Because of the loss of insurers, this year more than 75,000 people in Wisconsin had to change insurance companies and many of them were limited to one or two choices.



New Washington Post/ABC News Poll: Health Care Remains Top Concern for Voters

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll asked Americans about the policies which took precedent during President Trump’s first year in office, and reached a key conclusion: Americans are most united about health care, and they are united in opposition to the GOP agenda.

Asked if keeping “Obamacare” was a good thing for the country, 57 percent of respondents said yes – a significantly higher percentage than any other policy. Meanwhile, just one policy was underwater: the Republican tax scam, which kicked millions of people off of their insurance and was opposed 46% – 34%.

This polling echoes results in a January Hart Research survey, which found that health care far exceeds any other issue as an important driver of voting preferences, with over half of all voters identifying health care as one of their top priorities in the 2018 congressional elections. A majority of those surveyed expressed strong disapproval for the health care policies pushed by the GOP:

And just last week in Wisconsin, voters made their voices heard at the polls that matter most — the ballot box — by electing pro-ACA Democrat Patty Schachtner, who defeated her Republican opponent by nine points in a district that supported Donald Trump by 17 points just 15 months ago. That win follows off-year November elections where voters’ support for health care swept Democrats to victory across the country.

The polling is clear and so are the electoral results: the GOP’s health care has never been less popular. If Republicans want to stave the wave in 2018, they must abandon their sabotage-and-repeal health care agenda.

President Trump’s First Year: A War on Women’s Health

TO: Interested parties

FROM: Marjorie Connolly, Communications Director, Protect Our Care

RE: President Trump’s First Year: A War on Women’s Health

DATE: January 19, 2018

A year after the historic Women’s March on Washington, the millions who mobilized against President Trump’s anti-women agenda have seen their worst fears justified. Over the past twelve months, the Trump Administration and its Republican allies in Congress have launched attack after attack on women’s access to health care in parallel with Republicans’ war on American health care.

The Republican war on women’s health care is real and ongoing. Over the past twelve months, the Trump Administration’s actions to undermine Affordable Care Act protections and the Republican Congress’s repeated attempts to roll back women’s right to make their own health care decisions have created a perfect storm of harmful anti-woman policies.

Here’s how Republicans worked to wind back the clock on American women’s health care during Trump’s first year in office:

Defunding Planned Parenthood: Just today, the Trump Administration rolled back Obama-era guidance that warned states not to carve Planned Parenthood out of their Medicaid providers, signaling support for state efforts to place even higher barriers in the way of women’s access to health care. The Republican health repeal bills in Congress also got rid of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Taking direct aim at birth control: The Trump Administration’s proposed rule to let any employer opt out of offering health insurance that covers birth control rolls back the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee that women may access copay-free contraception.

Pushing Medicaid cuts that hurt women the most: Women make up almost two-thirds of the Americans projected to lose Medicaid coverage because of the Trump Administration’s push for states to impose work requirements. That’s because women are more likely to hold jobs that do not offer health coverage or to take on primary caregiver duties for other family members.

Stacking federal courts with anti-choice judges: For the next generation, American women will face the threat posed by an increasingly anti-choice federal judiciary. 12 of Trump’s judicial nominees were appointed to circuit courts during his first year – more than any other first-year president in American history.

Reversing progress against breast cancer: Republicans’ repeated attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits threaten landmark progress in women’s preventive health. New research this week finds that the Affordable Care Act requirement that plans (including Medicare) must cover recommended preventive care without a copay led to a significant increase in the number of women receiving mammography screenings.

Allowing insurers to once again charge women more: The Trump Administration’s recent proposed rule expanded Association Health Plans, which would allow plans to skirt some of the Affordable Care Act’s key protections. Under the rule, plans would be able to charge people more based on gender.

Raising costs on women for maternity care: The Republican health repeal bills allowed states to opt of covering “essential health benefits,” such as maternity care, prescription drugs, and substance abuse treatment. As a result, women would have had to purchase that care separately, and therefore pay more. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that maternity care, for example, would cost women $1,000 more per month.