Monthly Archives

March 2018

Advocates: April is Medicaid Awareness Month

Washington, D.C. – A coalition of health care advocacy groups will observe Medicaid Awareness Month this April, conducting educational campaigns focused on a different topic each week, culminating in a national Medicaid Day of Action on April 30. As federal and state-level threats mount, advocates will highlight the full scope of this critical program.

As Kaiser Health News’ Medicaid Nation series has recently emphasized, Medicaid plays an often-unheralded but central role delivering a wide range of public services to children, seniors, working families, people with disabilities, and people coping with mental health and substance use disorders. From Medicaid’s essential role facilitating special education in K-12 schools to its financial support for over 60% of nursing home beds nationwide, Medicaid Awareness Month will enhance awareness of the many ways this popular program strengthens American communities.

Organizations participating in this year’s Medicaid Awareness Month include:

  • Protect Our Care
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • Center for American Progress
  • Community Catalyst
  • First Focus
  • Health Care for America Now
  • Health Care Voter
  • National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
  • Organizing For Action
  • SEIU

As advocates and activists across the country highlight Medicaid’s critical importance in our communities, they will also educate the public about threatened cuts to the program. These include the President’s most recent budget, which would slash the program by $1.4 trillion; ongoing Congressional leadership discussion of ‘entitlement reform’; and a series of recent actions by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services that encourage states to cut Medicaid enrollment by imposing new restrictions and eligibility hurdles.

This year’s Medicaid Awareness Month will center around four distinct focuses: kids, families, and Medicaid; Medicaid’s key role in fighting the opioid crisis; seniors, older adults, and Medicaid; and how Medicaid serves people with disabilities.

For more information, please visit the Medicaid Awareness Month Resource Kit, which will be updated continuously throughout April.

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Association Health Plans Endanger Consumers

NATIONALLY, ASSOCIATION HEALTH PLANS HAVE A HISTORY OF FRAUD AND UNPAID CLAIMS

Between 2000 and 2002, AHPs Left 200,000 Policyholders with $252 Million In Unpaid Medical Bills. “There have been several documented cycles of large-scale scams. According to the GAO, between 1988 and 1991, multiple employer entities left 400,000 people with medical bills exceeding $123 million. The most recent cycle was between 2000 and 2002, as 144 entities left 200,000 policyholders with $252 million in unpaid medical bills.” [United Hospital Fund, 3/6/18]

  [GAO, February 2004]

Former Insurance Fraud Investigator: “Fraudulent Association Health Plans Have Left Hundreds Of Thousands Of People With Unpaid Claims.” “Marc I. Machiz, who investigated insurance fraud as a Labor Department lawyer for more than 20 years, said the executive order was ‘summoning back demons from the deep.’ ‘Fraudulent association health plans have left hundreds of thousands of people with unpaid claims,’ he said. ‘They operate in a regulatory never-never land between the Department of Labor and state insurance regulators.’” [New York Times, 10/21/17]

Dr. James Madara, CEO of the American Medical Association: Association Health Plans Have Potential To Threaten Health And Financial Stability. “Fraudsters prey upon areas of regulatory ambiguity and may challenge such authority in courts to further delay enforcement, which allows more time to increase unpaid medical claims…Without proper oversight to account for insolvency and fraud, AHPs have the potential to … (threaten) patients’ health and financial security and the financial stability of physician practices and other providers.” [Modern Healthcare, 3/7/18]

INSURANCE COMMISSIONERS AGREE THAT ASSOCIATION HEALTH PLANS ARE BAD FOR CONSUMERS

National Association of Insurance Commissioners: Association Health Plans Are Bad For Consumers. “AHPs would fragment and destabilize the small group market, resulting in higher premiums for many small businesses…AHPs would be exempt from state solvency requirements, patient protections, and oversight exposing consumers to significant harm.” [NAIC]

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Concerned About Potential For Consumer Harm Under AHPs. “The proposed rule would also loosen existing commonality of interest requirements to allow associations to form simply based on membership in the same trade, industry or profession..If a self funded MEWA were permitted to form in a neighboring state and to sell to Pennsylvania association members under the metro area provision, Pennsylvania regulators would not have the ability to assist a Pennsylvania resident if problems arise with the other state’s association, including claim denials, or, worse yet, in the event of insolvency or fraud.” [PA Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman, 3/6/18]

California Insurance Commissioner: “The Proposed Rule Is A Perfect Storm Of Bad Ideas.” “The AHPs proposed by this rule will harm consumers by degrading the individual and small group health insurance markets through adverse selection, and will impinge upon states’ rights while opening the door to fraud, insolvency and abuse…The proposed rule in no way limits the ability of states to regulate MEWAs, insurers offering coverage through MEWAs, and insurance producers marketing that coverage to employers. However, the checkered history of MEWAs instructs that unscrupulous actors will try and exploit any change which can be mischaracterized as constituting ERISA preemption.” [CA Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, 3/6/18]

PATIENT GROUPS, HOSPITALS, AND KEY HEALTH STAKEHOLDERS CONDEMN AHPs

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network: “We Are Also Concerned About The Proliferation Of AHPs Because Of Their History Of Fraud And Financial Instability.” “For a long time, these products were not traditionally subject to the same state insurance solvency and licensing requirements that allowed regulators to maintain necessary oversight.5 If an AHP lacked the financial resources to pay claims, then enrollees were left with no coverage and high out-of-pocket costs. Even in cases of well-meaning AHP sponsors, insolvencies led to millions of dollars in unpaid claims.” [ACS-CAN, 3/6/18]

American Hospital Association: AHPs “Ultimately Decreas[e] Access To Affordable Coverage.” “We are concerned that this rule fails to protect against discriminatory insurance practices and could contribute to instability in the individual and small group market, ultimately decreasing access to affordable coverage.” [American Hospital Association, 3/6/18]

Coalition Of 118 Patient And Community Organizations Urges Department Of Labor To Reconsider AHPs. “We believe that the proposed changes would negatively impact access to quality, affordable care for consumers, disrupt the individual and small business marketplace, and further strain the limited resources of state regulators…The intent of the President’s executive order was to increase consumer choice while curbing costs, however we believe that AHPs as proposed would invariably weaken the individual and small group markets leading to higher healthcare costs for all; higher premiums for those who stay in the marketplace, and high out of-pocket costs for those who are covered by AHPs for unexpected medical needs.” [Coalition Of 118 Patient And Community Organizations, 3/6/18]

AHPs ARE HOTSPOTS FOR FRAUD IN STATES:

Florida

A Labor Department Lawsuit Revealed An AHP Had Concealed Financial Problems And Left $3.6 Million In Unpaid Claims. “The Labor Department filed suit last year against a Florida woman and her company to recover $1.2 million that it said had been improperly diverted from a health plan serving dozens of employers. The defendants concealed the plan’s financial problems from plan participants and left more than $3.6 million in unpaid claims, the department said in court papers.” [New York Times, 10/21/17]

In Florida, A Man Pleaded Guilty To Embezzling $700,000 In Premiums From the AHP He Ran in 2004 To Help Build A Home For Himself And Was Sentenced To 57 Months In Prison. “A Florida man was sentenced to 57 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to embezzling about $700,000 in premiums from a health plan that he had marketed to small businesses. The Labor Department and the Justice Department said he had used some of the plan premiums to build a home for himself.” [New York Times, 10/21/17]

In 2004, A Florida Woman Was Left With $500,000 In Unpaid Medical Bills While She Was Covered By Association Health Plan. “Joan Piantadosi, a small business owner bought health insurance from Employers Mutual LLC through an association for herself, her family, and her employees. She was left with more than $500,000 in unpaid medical bills for her husband’s treatment during the time she was covered by Employers Mutual LLC. On top of that, her husband needed a liver transplant to live. In her own words, “[W]e were informed that since we lacked insurance coverage, we would have to pay a deposit of $150,000 before my husband could enter the hospital’s Liver Transplant Inpatient program. We simply did not have $150,000 to cover the deposit. Consequently, my husband was removed from the recipient list…We feared, among other things, that my husband might die while we were attempting to deal with the predicament of being uninsured despite having paid premiums to what appeared to be a legitimate health insurer.” [United Hospital Fund, 3/6/18]

Louisiana

In Louisiana, Two People Pleaded Guilty To Using Money From The AHP For Spa Treatments, Diamond Cuff Links, Foreign Travel And Other Personal Expenses. “And in Louisiana, two people pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges after the government found that they had taken money from the medical benefit fund of a trade association and used it to pay for spa treatments, diamond cuff links, evening gowns, foreign travel and other personal expenses.” [New York Times, 10/21/17]

Texas

In Texas, Patients Thought They Were Insured Until Told Otherwise In A Moment Of Crisis. “Robert Loiseau, who represented fraud victims in Texas, recalled their shock when they tried to receive care. ‘People bought insurance coverage because it was cheap and seemed to provide them with coverage they needed,’ he said. ‘It had a veneer of legitimacy. But when they went to the doctor, they found out all of a sudden that their insurance company, their perceived insurance company, was in receivership and that they had no coverage.’” [New York Times, 10/21/17]

Between 2001 And 2003, Texas Shut Down 129 Unauthorized Insurance Operations. “In the last two years, the Texas Insurance Department shut down 129 unauthorized insurance companies, affiliates, operators, and their agents whose illegal actions affected more than 20,000 Texans.” [The Commonwealth Fund, August 2003]

New Jersey

In 2002, An AHP Became Insolvent With $15 Million In Outstanding Claims. “For example, when a long-standing AHP in New Jersey that covered 20,000 people became insolvent in 2002, it had $15 million in outstanding medical bills. This left participating businesses and their employees’ claims unpaid even though employers paid premiums to the AHP.” [Commonwealth Fund, 10/10/17]

A Health Plan For New Jersey Small Businesses Collapsed With $7 Million In Unpaid Claims. “In another case, a federal appeals court found that a health plan for small businesses in New Jersey was ‘aggressively marketed but inadequately funded.’ The plan collapsed with more than $7 million in unpaid claims.” [New York Times, 10/21/17]

South Carolina

In South Carolina, A Man Pleaded Guilty To Diverting Nearly $1 Million From An AHP For Churches And Small Businesses, Leaving $1.7 Million In Unpaid Claims. “A South Carolina man pleaded guilty after the government found that he had diverted more than $970,000 in insurance premiums from a health plan for churches and small businesses. ‘His embezzlement and the plan’s consequent failure left behind approximately $1.7 million in unpaid medical claims,’ the Labor Department said.” [New York Times, 10/21/17]

Across State Lines: North Carolina, Maryland, And Beyond

One AHP Scheme Shows How AHPs Can Move From State To State. Families USA chronicled an AHP scheme involving the American Trade Association, Smart Data Solutions, and Serve America Assurance. They found:

  • “Even after one state identifies a problem, the company may continue to operate for years in other states. North Carolina issued a cease and desist order to stop many of the players in this case from selling insurance in 2008.”
  • “But by June 2010, when Maryland issued a cease and desist order, the plans sold by these players had been identified in at least 23 states.„ Estimates of total premiums paid to these companies for unauthorized, unlicensed plans range from $14 million to $100 million.”
  • “This particular scheme operated through associations that went by many different names. (At least one of the players in this case was involved in a previous case concerned with fraudulent insurance sold through an association of employers in 2001-2002.)”
  • “Consumers are often ill-protected when they buy coverage through an association, and the web of relationships among salespeople, associations, administrators, and actual insurers can be difficult for regulators to unravel and oversee. Consumers may be encouraged to join fake associations to buy health insurance so they have an illusion of coverage—and the insurers collect membership dues and premiums while illegally avoiding state oversight).” [Families USA, October 2010]

GAO Report In 1992 Showed Similar AHPs Left At Least 398,000 Participants With More Than $123 Million In Unpaid Claims And More Than 600 Plans In Almost Every State Failed To Comply With State Laws. “Back in 1992, the Government Accountability Office issued a scathing report on these multiple employer welfare arrangements (known as MEWAs; they’re pronounced “mee-wahs”) in which small businesses could pool funds to get the lower-cost insurance typically available only to large employers. These MEWAs, said the government, left at least 398,000 participants and their beneficiaries with more than $123 million in unpaid claims between January 1988 and June 1991. Furthermore, states reported massive and widespread problems with MEWAs. More than 600 plans in nearly every U.S. state failed to comply with insurance laws. Thirty-three states said enrollees were sometimes left without health coverage when MEWAs disbanded…’MEWAs have proven to be a source of regulatory confusion, enforcement problems and, in some instances, fraud,’ the GAO wrote at the time.” [Washington Post, 10/12/17]

Insurance Companies Say Pending Junk Plan Rule Will Drive Upcoming Rate Hikes

At the annual National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) meeting, Trump Administration officials told insurers that they will not make a decision on their proposed junk plan rule until this fall, right before Open Enrollment begins. Axios noted: “That would give insurers very little time to adjust their premiums to account for the finalized regulations — which would probably make them more likely to err on the side of caution and seek bigger initial increases.” In response, Protect Our Care Campaign Chair Leslie Dach  released the following statement:

“Middle-class consumers are already bracing for higher rates next year as a direct result of the TrumpTax bill and ongoing Trump Administration sabotage. After sabotaging their own half-hearted attempt at a so-called stabilization bill, Republicans in Congress  have nobody to blame but themselves for the rate hikes that insurance companies are now predicting. If they truly want to contain the damage and protect consumers, they should call on the Trump Administration to immediately rescind the junk plan rule that would once again allow discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions and also force rate increases for real insurance. It’s important to remember that it didn’t have to be this way: before President Trump took office, rates were leveling out and some insurance companies were planning to offer lower premiums. But instead, Trump led Congressional Republicans into an all-out war on our health care, and now that they have failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they seem to have decided to just keep digging.”

 

Celebrating ACA Anniversary Week Recap: Protect Our Care Coalition Highlights Health Gains Made Under Affordable Care Act and Voters Across the Country Say “We Won’t Go Back”

In honor of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law eight years ago, last week the Protect Our Care coalition celebrated ACA Anniversary Week, highlighting the health care achievements made across America under the ACA and making clear that we won’t go back and erode this progress.

SUPPORTERS STAND UP FOR THE ACA: WE WON’T GO BACK

All across the country, from Alaska to Tennessee to the nation’s Capitol, health care voters held rallies for the ACA Anniversary Week of Action to made their voices heard and tell elected officials we won’t go back on eight years of progress.

ALASKA

Protect Our Care and the Alaska Grassroots Alliance held a rally in Anchorage.

ARIZONA

 

Protect Our Care and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona held a rally in Phoenix. They were joined by Dr. Wylie Carhartt of the Mountain Park Health Center Family Practice, Phil Pangrazio, CEO of Ability 360, Steve Gomez, whose child received a heart transplant under the ACA, and cancer survivors.

COLORADO

Protect Our Care held rallies in Denver and Grand Junction, visiting Sen. Cory Gardner’s Denver office and Rep. Scott Tipton’s Grand Junction office.

MAINE

 

Protect Our Care joined State Senator Dr. Geoff Gratwick and Nurse Practitioner State Rep. Anne Perry to hold a rally in Bangor. Rep Perry expressed her disappointment in Senator Susan Collins’ recent sponsorship of legislation which would weaken women’s care and her support for the ACA, saying, “Even though there may be complaints of more spent because of Medicaid, we will have a healthier population. And I don’t know of one business who doesn’t want a healthier workforce.”

Central Maine Editorial Board: Our View: Obamacare at 8 years: Much done, much left to do

Fox Bangor: Legislature still needs to write check for Medicaid expansion

NEVADA

Protect Our Care, OFA, Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates, the Alliance for Healthcare Security, and Battle Born Progress held rallies in Las Vegas and Reno. They were joined by representatives from Positively Kids, the Children’s Advocacy Alliance, SmartBuy Insurance, and the Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans, as well as cancer survivors and health care advocates.

Las Vegas Sun: Analysis: Advocates look to 2018 midterms to restore, protect ACA

CBS News 4: News 4 examines Obamacare’s impact on Nevada on the bill’s 8th anniversary

OHIO

Protect Our Care and For Our Future joined with DeWayne Lee of Healing Heart, local pastors, and city councilmembers to hold rallies in Cincinnati, Mansfield, and Toledo, outside of Sen. Portman’s Toledo office.

WNWO: Sen. Portman Constituents Rally in Support of Affordable Care Act

Richland Source: Mansfield leaders advocate for access to quality healthcare

TENNESSEE

Protect Our Care and the Southern Christian Coalition joined with physicians, registered nurses, local faith leaders, and Sara Scott, whose son has asthma and progressive heart disease and whose daughter has developmental disabilities, neither of whom would be insurable without the ACA, to hold rallies in Nashville and Chattanooga, outside Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office.

Chattanooga Times Free Press: An imperfect journey: 8 years of Obamacare

WEST VIRGINIA

Protect Our Care, West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, the West Virginia Citizen Action Group, Our Children, Our Future, and West Virginians Together for Medicaid joined with staff from the office of Senator Joe Manchin to hold a rally in Charleston.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS JOIN HEALTH CARE GROUPS TO CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARY

Last Thursday, Leader Nancy Pelosi, Whip Steny Hoyer, Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn, Rep. David Cicilline, and Rep. Brenda Lawrence joined Protect Our Care, Little Lobbyists, Health Care Voter, Doctors for America, and other health care advocates at a press conference celebrating the millions of lives which have benefited since the ACA was signed into law.

Washington Examiner: Pelosi celebrates eight-year anniversary of Obamacare

POLLING SHOWS: HEALTH CARE A TOP ISSUE, VOTERS BACKING PRO-ACA CANDIDATES

Last week, Public Policy Polling released a series of polls which found that not only is health care a top issue for voters across the country, but in battleground states pro-repeal candidates are being rejected. The polls found the following results:

  • In Arizona, health care is a top issue for 68% of voters, with 21% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema leads pro-repeal candidate Martha McSally 46-41
  • In Nevada, health care is a top issue for 65% of voters, with 27% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Jacky Rosen leads pro-repeal Dean Heller 44-39.
  • In Pennsylvania, health care is a top issue for 71% of voters, with 25% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Bob Casey leads pro-repeal candidate Lou Barletta 54-36.
  • In Tennessee, health care is a top issue for 71% of voters, with 31% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Phil Bredesen leads pro-repeal candidate Marsha Blackburn 46-41.
  • In Wisconsin, health care is a top issue for 72% of voters, with 25% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Tammy Baldwin leads pro-repeal candidates Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson 51-39 and 51-38, respectively.

This Week in the War on Health Care

While much of Washington focused on the omnibus bill, the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system this week. Here’s what happened this week in the GOP’s war on health care – and how as we approach the eighth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law, the health care protections it provides Americans are more popular than ever.

GOP PRIORITIZES PARTISANSHIP OVER AMERICANS’ HEALTH, AGAIN…

Congressional Republican leaders left the bipartisan negotiating table and unilaterally released a “stabilization” bill riddled with poison pills designed to prevent Democrats from supporting its passage. The bill includes expansive anti-abortion language which effectively bans all private insurance from covering abortion services, and prevents states from  taking action against the Trump Administration’s proposed junk insurance plans that can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and refuse to cover essential benefits.

Once again, Republicans chose to prioritize an extreme agenda over their constituents’ interests, continuing to go after pre-existing condition protections and women’s health while artificially inflating rates through their relentless sabotage of our care. As Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) said, “Nobody in that room voted for Obamacare, so the idea you’re going to vote for billions of dollars to stabilize a system you never supported in the first place — pretty hard to choke down.”

…TO OFFER A SHAM STABILIZATION BILL

And what of the bill itself? Alexander-Collins is simply a terrible proposal for Americans’ health care. The proposed GOP stabilization legislation would result in net coverage losses, higher out-of-pocket costs, and fewer coverage options for many Americans – and an attack on a women’s right to choose.

So despite what Republicans may be publicly saying, Alexander-Collins is not a serious attempt to stabilize the marketplaces. It’s a partisan bill designed to fail, and it represents nothing more politics at its worst from Republican leaders in Congress who otherwise have voted to repeal Americans’ health care.

CONFIRMED: TRUMP’S JUNK PLAN RULE HARMS OLDER AMERICANS

According to a new study from AARP, the Trump Administration’s plot to let insurance companies sell junk plans would cause premiums for older Americans to jump by double digits next year, with the average 60-year-old paying an average of 16.6% more for individual-market coverage. If the proposal moves forward, older Americans would face an eye-popping annual premium increase of over $2,000 next year. Here are full state-by-state estimates:

WHITE HOUSE CONTINUES IGNORING REAL OPIOID SOLUTIONS

On Tuesday, President Trump spoke in New Hampshire about the opioid crisis. Once again, his speech was heavy with rhetoric and short on solutions – more of the same from a White House more committed to politicizing the opioid crisis than ending it.

As a reminder, the Trump Administration has relentlessly attacked and sabotaged Medicaid, proposing to cut funding by hundreds of billions for the program that pays for one-fifth of all substance abuse treatment nationwide, and for two successive years has proposed a 95% cut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, charged with coordinating the federal response to the nation’s raging opioid crisis.

HELLER RECEIVES HIS PAYOFF

Last summer, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) supported the GOP’s repeal legislation, a bill he himself said ““takes insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.” This came just weeks after President Trump threatened Heller, sayings, “He wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?” As CNN noted:

The subtle threat may have had an effect. Over the next several months, Heller aligned himself closely with the President, endorsing his efforts to repeal Obamacare, appearing right behind Trump at a White House event celebrating passage of the tax law, and avoiding direct criticism of Trump despite the seemingly endless string of controversies coming out of the West Wing.

This week, Sen. Heller received his final payoff: a tweet from President Trump.

Congrats to Sen. Heller! But he might want to take that endorsement with a grain of salt, because…

POLLING SHOWS: HEALTH CARE A TOP ISSUE, VOTERS BACKING PRO-ACA CANDIDATES

This week, Public Policy Polling released a series of polls which found that not only is health care a top issue for voters across the country, but voters are rejecting pro-repeal candidates in five battleground states. The polls found the following results:

  • In Arizona, health care is a top issue for 68% of voters, with 21% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema leads Republica Martha McSally 46-41
  • In Nevada, health care is a top issue for 65% of voters, with 27% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Jacky Rosen leads Republican Dean Heller 44-39.
  • In Pennsylvania, health care is a top issue for 71% of voters, with 25% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Bob Casey leads Republican  Lou Barletta 54-36.
  • In Tennessee, health care is a top issue for 71% of voters, with 31% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Phil Bredesen leads Republican Marsha Blackburn 46-41.
  • In Wisconsin, health care is a top issue for 72% of voters, with 25% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Tammy Baldwin leads Republicans Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson 51-39 and 51-38, respectively.

POLLING ALSO SHOWS: HEALTH CARE THE #1 POCKETBOOK ISSUE FOR AMERICAN FAMILIES

Today, the Pew Research Center released a new survey that finds the number-one pocketbook issue for Americans of all income brackets is health care, confirming the vital importance of this issue to American families. Key findings include:

  • More than half of those surveyed said that health care affects their household’s financial situation “a lot,” the only issue which more than half of Americans rated a key economic issue.

  • Health care is “a top household financial issue” across all income levels, with 53% of those earning more than $100,000 and 52% of those earning $30,000 or less saying it has a large effect.

THE ACA TURNS EIGHT, AND IS MORE POPULAR THAN EVER

Finally, today March 23, is the eight-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law. Since then, more than 20 million Americans have gained coverage; the uninsured rate fell to below 9 percent, the lowest-ever recorded rate; and health care prices rose at the slowest rate in more than half a century.

Yesterday morning, Leader Nancy Pelosi, Whip Steny Hoyer, Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn, Rep. David Cicilline, and Rep. Brenda Lawrence joined Protect Our Care, Little Lobbyists, Health Care Voter, Doctors for America, and other health care advocates at a press conference celebrating the millions of lives which have benefited since the ACA was signed into law.

While there is countless work ahead, hundreds of millions of Americans are able to sleep easier at night knowing that insurers can no longer pick and choose who to cover, protecting from discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, removing lifetime caps, and mandating essential coverage like maternity care and cancer treatment.

Today, the Affordable Care Act is more popular than it has ever been.

AARP Study: Trump’s Junk Plan Rule Punishes Older Americans

60-year-olds set to pay $2000 more in premiums next year after latest Trump sabotage

According to a new study by the AARP, the Trump Administration’s plot to let insurance companies sell junk plans would cause premiums for older Americans to jump by double digits next year, with the average 60-year-old paying an average of 16.6% more for individual-market coverage. In response, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Too many older Americans are already getting squeezed, and now a new AARP study proves that Trump’s new junk health insurance proposal would not only hurt those stuck with junk coverage, but would also drive up costs for people over age 50 who buy real insurance. If the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal moves forward, older Americans will face an eye-popping average increase of over $2000 in annual premiums next year. This latest attack in the Trump Administration’s health care sabotage campaign must be stopped before it drives rates even higher, leaving older Americans struggling to pay the price.”

STATE-BY-STATE AARP ESTIMATES

Pew Poll: Health Care Is The #1 Pocketbook Issue for American Families

Today, the Pew Research Center released a new survey that finds the number-one pocketbook issue for Americans of all income brackets is health care, confirming the vital importance of this issue to American families. The new data echoes a body of recent polling that indicates health care is a top issue heading into the 2018 midterm elections.

Key findings include:

  • More than half of those surveyed said that health care affects their household’s financial situation “a lot,” the only issue which more than half of Americans rated a key economic issue.

  • Health care is “a top household financial issue” across all income levels, with 53% of those earning more than $100,000 and 52% of those earning $30,000 or less saying it has a large effect.

 

Kaiser Poll Confirms Public Support for Affordable Care Act

This morning, on the 8th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s signing, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s March Health Tracking Poll finds that the law’s popularity remains above water, with half of Americans having a favorable opinion. The poll also confirms that Americans want Congress to improve the law, not to repeal it, with 63% saying Republicans in Congress should focus their efforts on improvements and only 32% supporting repeal.

“Today’s tracking poll confirms that after eight years, the Affordable Care Act has stood the test of time and is now woven into the fabric of the American health care system. Two-thirds of the public want to see the law improved and strengthened. Unfortunately, just this week, Republicans in Congress continued to ignore Americans’ desire to improve health care by refusing to pass bipartisan stabilization legislation to undo some of the rate hikes President Trump has caused with his relentless sabotage of the Affordable Care Act. It’s time for Republicans to listen to their constituents, who want Congress to put the partisan fight over the Affordable Care Act in the rearview mirror once and for all, and start working on bipartisan fixes and improvements. And it’s time for President Trump to face up to the facts and stop his Administration’s ongoing sabotage of our health care system,” said Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse.

Protect Our Care on Eighth Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act: We Won’t Go Back

On the eighth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law, Protect Our Care Campaign Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“Eight years after the Affordable Care Act became law, twenty million people have gained coverage; the uninsured rate has been cut in half; and out-of-pocket spending has fallen double digits while medical bankruptcies are becoming more and more rare. Because of the ACA, insurers can no longer deny coverage to the one-in-four Americans with a pre-existing condition or drop coverage due to a yearly or lifetime limit; plans must cover essential health benefits; women cannot be charged more than men; and young adults can stay on their parent’s plan until age 26.

“Today, not only is the ACA more popular than ever, but health care has become a driving factor in elections across the country. The two times Medicaid expansion was on the ballot, in Maine and Oregon, it won overwhelmingly, and voters have cited health care as a top issue, powering Democratic victories in Virginia, New Jersey, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. And despite almost a decade of attacks on the law, the American people are more united than ever in favor of expanding access to health care.

“Despite all this, Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans continue their relentless repeal-and-sabotage campaign, raising premiums and out of pocket costs for millions including demanding an age tax for older Americans, taking away protections for people with pre existing conditions, and gutting Medicaid.

“The past eight years have shown just how much progress has been made in the American health care system, and the past year has made clear just how much Americans value the quality, affordable care provided by the ACA. The Affordable Care Act made health care in America immensely better, and we won’t go back.”

COLLINS V COLLINS: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

In December, Senator Susan Collins voted for a tax bill that will raise health care premiums by double digits and result in millions more uninsured Americans. She asked her constituents to trust her by promising that Congress would pass a bill to fix the insurance markets she voted to throw into disarray. Now she is trying to rewrite history by claiming that she never made that promise. In response to her shocking claim, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“If Susan Collins thinks she can rewrite history and push a partisan bill that would force more Americans off coverage, allow discrimination against seniors and people with pre-existing conditions, and enshrine Mike Pence’s favorite new anti-choice restriction, she should know better: her constituents simply won’t accept it. Senator Collins should stop spreading tall tales about a partisan bill that would only further destabilize our health care system.”

WHAT SENATOR COLLINS SAYS ABOUT STABILIZATION PROMISE TODAY:

“The idea that this was the one and only issue, and that there was some kind of deal, is not an accurate assessment of what happened.” [The Hill, 3.22.18]

WHAT SENATOR COLLINS SAID ABOUT STABILIZATION PROMISE LAST FALL:

Here’s what she told the Washington Post in December:

That means Collins will have to cast her vote on the tax bill without knowing for certain that commitments made to her will be honored, leading critics to say she’s getting played for a fool.

If she prevails, Collins will have been responsible for the passage of significant legislation that could help make insurance coverage more affordable for tens of thousands of Americans.

And if not?

“I’m counting on the administration to make sure that does not happen,” Collins said in an interview. “I would consider it a very serious breach of a promise to me.”

And what she said in November:

“I’m pushing to make sure they are passed and signed into law prior to the conference report coming back. So I would know for certain that we’re going to be able to mitigate the impact of repealing the individual mandate.”

AND HOW HER BROKEN PROMISE IS PLAYING:

Today’s editorial in Maine’s newspaper of record: Republicans responsible for looming chaos in health care marketplaces.

“It’s tempting to blame both parties for the latest stalemate, but Republicans own most of this one because they control the process…Collins took a brave stand against repeal of the ACA last summer, but she was on board with the tax bill even though she knew it would have a bad effect on health insurance markets. At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that Collins’ proposal to offset that disruption would get a vote, but House Speaker Paul Ryan made no such commitment.” [Portland Press Herald, 3/22/18]

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin:

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) — who was promised in exchange for her vote on the tax bill (that stripped out the individual mandate) measures to reduce Obamacare premium costs — was once again stiffed. Her proposal to restore cost-sharing reduction subsidies and fund state high-risk pools was left out of the omnibus. (As many observed at the time, she was snookered by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.)” [Washington Post, 3.22.18]