Monthly Archives

March 2018

The Republican War on Health Care: First They Sabotaged It, Then They Refused to Fix It, Now they Own It

Republicans Bear 100% of Responsibility for Avoidable Premium Increases Set to Hit Millions of Middle Class Families This Fall

BEFORE PRESIDENT TRUMP’S SABOTAGE, THE MARKETS WERE STABILIZING

Trump White House Today Admits The Marketplaces Were Stabilizing. “After an initial adjustment period, insurers’ financial health, as measured by their stock prices, surpassed earlier levels … While insurers initially incurred losses in the ACA marketplaces as they adjusted to new regulations and a relatively unhealthy risk pool, insurers are now profiting on the individual market as well.” [CEA, 3/18/18]

In 2017, Congressional Budget Office Reports: ACA Market Is Stable. “The subsidies to purchase coverage combined with the penalties paid by uninsured people stemming from the individual mandate are anticipated to cause sufficient demand for insurance by people with low health care expenditures for the market to be stable.”  [Congressional Budget Office, 3/13/17]

In 2017, S&P Global Reports: ACA Market Will Remain Stable So Long As The Trump Administration Is Not “Disruptive.” S&P Global repeatedly reports that “2016 results and the market enrollment so far in 2017 show that the ACA individual market is not in a ‘death spiral.’ However, every time something new (and potentially disruptive) is thrown into the works, it impedes the individual market’s path to stability.” [S&P Global, 4/7/17]

THEN REPUBLICAN REPEAL ATTEMPTS UNDERMINED THE MARKET

Ongoing Republican repeal attempts throughout 2017 created uncertainty that insurance companies said forced them to hike premiums: “Obamacare markets are undergoing a slow-motion meltdown as Republicans stoke a climate of uncertainty while struggling to agree on their own plan for overhauling American health care.” [Politico, 6/8/17]

AND IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH, PRESIDENT TRUMP STARTED TO SABOTAGE THE MARKETS, WHILE REPUBLICANS ON THE HILL DID NOTHING TO STOP IT

On October 13, 2017, President Trump Ended Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs), Payments To Insurers That Help Lower Income Americans Afford Health Coverage In The ACA Marketplace. [Washington Post, 10/13/17]

Kaiser Family Foundation: Lack Of CSR Payments Resulted In Surcharge In Premiums Of 7.1 To 38 Percent. “As shown in Table 1, among those insurers that specify the surcharge on silver plans for the discontinuation of CSR payments, the amount of the surcharge ranges from 7.1% to 38%.” [KFF, 10/27/17]

THEN CONGRESS PASSED A TAX CUT FOR THE WEALTHY AND CORPORATIONS THAT ALSO RAISED PREMIUMS AND WILL TAKE COVERAGE AWAY FROM MILLIONS OF PEOPLE

Last December, Congressional Republicans Passed A Tax Bill That Strips 13 Million Of Insurance And Raises Premiums By Double Digits. “The Senate bill’s repeal of the individual mandate (the requirement that most people get health coverage or pay a penalty) would cause 13 million more people to become uninsured, raising the uninsured rate among the non-elderly from 11 percent to about 16 percent, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates. It also would raise premiums by an average of 10 percent in the individual market by 2027, according to CBO.” [CBPP, 12/8/17]

Urban Institute Predicts Near 20 Percent Premium Increases Next Year And Millions Of Americans Losing Coverage Due To The Repeal Provision In The Tax Law And Trump Sabotage.  According to a study by the non-partisan Urban Institute, Republican health care sabotage is set to artificially inflate premiums by double digits for millions of families this fall. The study forecasts an 18.2% increase in 2019 premiums for Affordable Care Act plans and millions of Americans losing their coverage because the Trump and Congress repealed the individual mandate and the Trump Administration’s proposal to sell junk plans that do not meet ACA requirements. [Urban Institute, 3/14/18]

CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS BROKE THEIR PROMISE TO PASS A STABILIZATION BILL IN 2017

After Being Promised To Have A Stabilization Bill As Part Of The Tax Bill, Sens. Alexander And Collins Issued A Statement Saying They Asked Sen. McConnell To Postpone Stabilization Until 2018. ‘Rather than considering a broad year-end funding agreement as we expected, it has become clear that Congress will only be able to pass another short-term extension to prevent a government shutdown and to continue a few essential programs,’ said the Senators.  ‘For this reason, we have asked Senator McConnell not to offer this week our legislation which independent analysts Avalere and Oliver-Wyman say would reduce premiums by about 20 percent for the 9 million Americans who have no government subsidies to help them buy insurance in the individual market. Instead, we will offer it after the first of the year when the Senate will consider the omnibus spending bill, the Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization, funding for Community Health Centers, and other legislation that was to have been enacted this week.’” [Alexander and Collins Statement, 12/20/17]

HOUSE REPUBLICANS INDICATED THEY WOULDN’T SUPPORT STABILIZATION

Speaker Ryan Opposed Efforts To Stabilize The ACA Dating Back To October 2017. Last October, Ryan spokesman, Doug Andres, said, “The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on the repeal and replace of Obamacare.” [Matt Fuller, Huffington Post Reporter, 10/18/17]

House Conservatives Called Alexander-Murray Stabilization Bill A “Nonstarter.” “House conservatives appear united in opposition to the health care stabilization proposal crafted by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray. ‘Right now it’s a nonstarter,’ House Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat said Tuesday during a Conversations with Conservatives press event.” [Roll Call, 10/24/17]

Rep. Tom Cole: “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.”  “In addition to the dispute over abortion language, GOP lawmakers were reluctant to sign off on provisions that shored up the Affordable Care Act, a law they all opposed. ‘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,’ said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.).” [Washington Post, 3/19/18]

PRESIDENT TRUMP AND SPEAKER RYAN REPEATEDLY TRIED TO DERAIL STABILIZATION NEGOTIATIONS BY ADDING MORE CONSERVATIVE DEMANDS

September 2017: “House Speaker Paul Ryan And The White House Have Informed Senate Republican Leaders That They Oppose A Bipartisan Plan To Stabilize Obamacare Being Written In The Senate.” “House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House have informed Senate Republican leaders that they oppose a bipartisan plan to stabilize Obamacare being written in the Senate, according to Trump administration and congressional sources, in a clear bid to boost the Senate’s prospects of repealing the health law.” [Politico, 9/19/17]

March 2018: The White House Released A List Of Conservative, Deal-breaking Demands To Stabilization. In the middle of bipartisan negotiations on stabilization, the White House released a list of its conservative demands, including:

  • Expanding the Hyde abortion language
  • Codifying the Administration’s Short-Term proposal into law that undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions
  • Expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) that is essentially another tax cut for the wealthy
  • Imposing an age tax on older Americans by letting insurers charge people over 50 five times more than younger people. [White House Document, obtained by Politico, 3/8/18]

The Hill: White House pushes for conservative changes to ObamaCare fix

Politico: White House pitch to bolster Obamacare includes tough trade-offs for Democrats

Wall Street Journal: Trump Administration Pushes Conservative Goals in Health-Care Market Changes

Vox: The White House might have just blown up the last best hope to stabilize Obamacare

Talking Points Memo: White House Demands Threaten Bipartisan Effort To Bring Down Health Premiums

NOW, THE LATEST REPUBLICAN STABILIZATION PLAN THREATENS PRE EXISTING CONDITIONS AND ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS

           [AARP, 3/21/18]

AND, REPUBLICANS ADDED A  PARTISAN POISON PILL THEY KNEW WOULD TORPEDO BIPARTISAN STABILIZATION NEGOTIATIONS

Statements

Sen. Patty Murray: “They’re Moving Further And Further Away From Their Original Goal.” “We’re not going to give them an expansion of Hyde and say that’s a goal we all agree to…They’re moving further and further away from their original goal, which was to make sure people have lower costs and access.” [Washington Post, 3/8/18]

Sen. Patty Murray: “They Keep Throwing Obstacles In.” “If we would just go back to the basic premise here and do what we all agreed to do, we’d be able to get this done.” [Washington Post, 3/8/18]

Speaker Paul Ryan Refuses To Introduce Stabilization Without Restricting Women’s Access To Health Care. “House Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) told his GOP conference at a Tuesday meeting that he wouldn’t bring the measures to the floor without accompanying language known as the Hyde Amendment, ensuring taxpayer dollars can’t go toward plans that cover abortions.” [Washington Post, 3/8/18]

Headlines

  • Washington Examiner: House Republicans seek anti-abortion protections in Obamacare stabilization bills
  • Huffington Post: Another Obamacare Stabilization Bill Is In Trouble, This Time Because Of Abortion

BY REFUSING TO ADDRESS THEIR OWN SABOTAGE WITH BIPARTISAN STABILIZATION, REPUBLICANS NOW BEAR RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CONSEQUENCES

Lindsey Graham: Republicans “Own The Outcome” On Health Care. “Sen. Graham told Breitbart News, ‘In October, premiums are going up. Obamacare cannot be fixed. It’s going to continue to collapse, and then, we own the outcome. By repealing the individual mandate, which is a step forward in the eyes of the public, we own the issue. We have a responsibility to do something about the collapsing Obamacare system. I believe that we’re going to get blamed more than Democrats because we stopped trying to repeal Obamacare, and to suggest that we don’t own it is just simply politically naive.’ Graham continued, ‘It can hurt us in 2018. It can hurt by our base feeling like we betrayed them. It can hurt us from people suffering from Obamacare, like we don’t have a solution. It will energize Democrats. It can undercut everything we did on the tax cut side.'” [Breitbart, 2/6/18]

Rep. Charlie Dent: Republicans “Own” Health Care Now.  “Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) argued Friday that President Trump was ‘ill-advised’ to end key ObamaCare payments, warning that the GOP now ‘owns’ whatever happens to ObamaCare. ‘I think the president is ill-advised to take this course of action because … we, the Republican Party, will own this,’ Dent, a key House moderate who is retiring from Congress at the end of his term, said on CNN. Asked about Trump’s previous comments blaming problems with ObamaCare on former President Barack Obama, Dent pointed out that Republicans currently control the White House and have majorities in both chambers of Congress. ‘Barack Obama is a former president. President Trump is the president and he’s a Republican, and we control the Congress,’ Dent said. ‘So we own the system now. We’re going to have to figure out a way to stabilize this situation … This is on us.'” [The Hill, 10/13/17]

Washington Post: “The Pottery Barn Rule Comes To Mind: You Break It, You Own It.” “This is not ‘letting’ Obamacare fail. Many nonpartisan experts believe that these active measures are likely to undermine the pillars of the 2010 law and hasten the collapse of the marketplaces. The Pottery Barn rule comes to mind: You break it, you own it. Yes, the plate you just shattered had some cracks in it. But if you dropped it on the ground, the store is going to blame you.” [Washington Post, 10/13/17]

Washington Post: “Trump’s Not Going To Be Able To Avoid Blame For Kneecapping Obamacare.” [Washington Post, 10/13/17]

“After Months Of Pinning The Blame For Obamacare’s Shortcomings On Democrats And Watching His Own Party Fail To Act, President Donald Trump Just Took Ownership Of A Struggle That’s Consumed Republicans For Seven Years.” “After months of pinning the blame for Obamacare’s shortcomings on Democrats and watching his own party fail to act, President Donald Trump just took ownership of a struggle that’s consumed Republicans for seven years. Trump’s decision late Thursday to end government subsidies to insurers to help lower-income Americans afford to use their coverage under the Affordable Care Act was the most drastic step he’s taken to undermine his predecessor’s signature achievement. It also lobbed a live bomb into the laps of Republicans lawmakers 13 months before congressional elections after he publicly berated the party’s Senate leadership for being unable to keep a longstanding promise to repeal the law.” [Bloomberg, 10/13/17]

The American People Agree: President Trump And Congressional Republicans Are Playing Politics With People’s Health Care. A poll conducted last September found that 61 percent of voters believed President Trump was “trying to make the Affordable Care Act fail,” and 64 percent of voters said Trump is “playing politics with people’s health care.” The poll also found that the American people seriously disapprove of how Republicans in Congress are treating health care: 80 percent of voters disapprove while only 20 percent approve. [Garin Poll, 9/5/17]

The GOP Stabilization Sham

Let’s be clear about one thing, except for perhaps a handful of Republicans (and perhaps not even that many) Republicans don’t care one iota about stabilizing the Affordable Care Act (which only needs stabilizing because of their very own sabotage).  As a party, their operating theory has been to destroy the law for eight years and to believe that they now want to make it work better is pure fancy.

This whole thing has been a GOP led sham.  Remember, the whole notion of a stabilization bill was dead late last year until they needed Susan Collins’ vote for the tax scam bill which ripped away health care from millions to fund tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations.  Collins is a Republican and was always going to vote for the tax bill – but she needed cover to vote for a bill that ripped away coverage and spiked premiums for millions of Americans.  She got it in the form of a promise to pass legislation to stabilize the markets – a promise we said from the beginning Republican’s would never keep.  We used to say that Collins got played by a desperate leadership which needed her vote for the only piece of major legislation they had a prayer of passing in 2017, but she’s been in Washington 30 years, she knew this was never going to happen – or, at a minimum, should have known.

Fast forward to today.  Republicans have seen the studies – they know their sabotage is going to massively spike premiums and threaten coverage – but they hate the ACA – always have – and broadly speaking have no interest in helping it survive.  They also know they need to provide cover to Collins because given the margins in the Senate they still need her vote on close bills.  So they put forward a bill that they know Democrats won’t support – which all but codifies junk plans, sets the stage for high risk pools and imposes unacceptable restrictions on abortion – a classic poison pill if there ever was one.  And they’ll force a vote on this bill separate from the omnibus because they know it will fail – which is what they want – and then they will blame Democrats for what ensues in the market and try to claim they would have fixed it.  That’s complete and utter horse manure and no reporter, editorial writer or voter should buy the GOP’s crocodile tears over the failure of their so-called stabilization bill.

My mother taught me growing up that when in doubt consider the source.  Republicans are going to claim that THEY are the ones who want to stabilize OBAMACARE and that Democrats stood in the way?  Give me a break.

Brad Woodhouse, Campaign Director

Protect Our Care

The Alexander-Collins Sham Stabilization Bill

Protect Our Care Campaign Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement on the sham, partisan Alexander-Collins health care stabilization bill:

“The Alexander-Collins legislation should be rejected. It is bad for Americans’ health care. This proposal would result in net coverage losses, higher out-of-pocket costs, and fewer coverage options for many Americans. Despite what Republicans may be publicly saying, Alexander-Collins is not a serious attempt to stabilize the marketplaces. House Republicans admit they oppose stabilization. And Republicans are insisting on a poison pill that would further their war on women’s health. This proposal is a partisan bill designed to fail, and it represents nothing more politics at its worst from elected officials who otherwise have voted to repeal Americans’ health care.”

BACKGROUND

  • The Republican “stabilization” bill includes expansive and restrictive new anti-abortion policy that would have far-reaching consequences for women’s health. Republicans claim they want to apply the existing ‘no federal funding for abortions’ Hyde Amendment to stabilization legislation, but are in fact proposing something entirely new: language that would result in an effective ban on private insurance coverage for abortion, including in plans purchased by private individuals using no federal money, which experts predict would coerce insurance companies into dropping abortion coverage from all plans, both on and off the Marketplace, in order to receive CSRs or reinsurance payments.
  • This proposal would ban a woman from using her own money to buy insurance that covers a medical service the Supreme Court says she has a constitutional right to access and represent a new frontier in Republicans’ war on women’s health. And it’s entirely hypocritical, because the Affordable Care Act was signed into law with restrictions that prohibit insurance companies from using public funds for abortion coverage, with President Obama even having signed an executive order emphasizing that none of its funds can be used to cover abortion services.
  • As Aviva Aron-Dine with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains, the CBO finds that this legislation would result in net coverage losses, with larger losses for moderate-income consumers than gains for middle- and upper-income consumers. Ultimately, this legislation would result in net coverage losses between 500,000 and one million people.
  • Moreover, Aron-Dine notes that the CBO has confirmed that the federal savings from restoring CSRs come from coverage losses, higher premiums, and higher out-of-pocket costs for those with incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty line, which would result in worse outcomes for consumers between 200 and 400 percent of the poverty line. In fact, the savings would come from a combination of consumers dropping coverage and those maintaining coverage being forced to pay more for doing so.
  • When Republicans’ constituents face double-digit premium increases in the fall because their Congressmen scuttled stabilization, they’ll know exactly who to blame.

Key Quote: ‘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,’ said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla).”

President Trump Ignores Real Opioid Solutions

Washington, D.C. – Today, President Trump spoke in New Hampshire about the opioid crisis. Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement in response:

“Heavy with rhetoric and short on solutions, President Trump’s speech today in New Hampshire was more of the same from a White House more committed to politicizing the opioid crisis than ending it. 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.

“If the White House truly cared about combating the opioid epidemic, they would be calling for every state that hadn’t expanded Medicaid to do so. That they’re not tells you all you need to know.”

Republicans Prioritize Partisan Politics Over Americans’ Health – Again

GOP Chooses to Push Extreme Agenda, Walks Away From Talks to Fix Trump’s Health Care Mess

After Congressional Republican leaders left the bipartisan negotiating table and unilaterally released a bill that includes a poison pill to effectively ban all private insurance from covering abortion services and would hamstring states’ efforts to avoid the disastrous effects of the Administration’s junk plan proposal, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“It’s a crying shame that Republicans chose to torch good, bipartisan proposals that would have counteracted the price hikes that Trump’s sabotage is set to inflict on millions of American families this fall. Many of the policies included in this package were the product of bipartisan negotiation, but once again, Republicans are choosing to prioritize an extreme agenda over their constituents’ interests. Republicans leaders themselves boasted that the noncontroversial elements of this stabilization package would have reduced premiums up to 40%.

“When Republicans had the opportunity to move on from their partisan war on health care, they instead added a poison pill that would effectively ban all private insurance from covering abortion services. Susan Collins will now need to explain to her constituents that when she could have finally kept her promise and undone some of Trump’s sabotage, she instead chose to let far-right Republicans’ anti-woman agenda scuttle the deal.

“What’s more, the legislation would prevent states from taking action against the harmful Trump Administration proposal to push junk insurance plans that can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and refuse to cover essential benefits. Ultimately, today’s partisan stabilization proposal shows that despite their constituents’ wishes, Republicans will just keep going after pre-existing condition protections and women’s health while artificially inflating rates through their relentless sabotage of our care.”

BACKGROUND

The Republican “stabilization” bill includes expansive and restrictive new anti-abortion policy that would have far-reaching consequences for women’s health.

Republicans falsely claim they want to apply the existing ‘no federal funding for abortions’ Hyde Amendment to stabilization legislation. However, they are in fact proposing something entirely new: language that would result in an effective ban on private insurance coverage for abortion, including in plans purchased by private individuals using no federal money.

That’s because the language that Republicans are now pushing would block payments to insurance companies if health plans sold through the marketplace or elsewhere offer abortion coverage. Experts predict that this new language would coerce insurance companies into dropping abortion coverage from all plans, both on and off the Marketplace, in order to receive CSRs or reinsurance payments.

These Republicans are proposing to ban a woman from using her own money to buy insurance that covers a medical service the Supreme Court says she has a constitutional right to access. This would be a new frontier in Republicans’ war on women’s health.

And it’s entirely hypocritical, because the Affordable Care Act was signed into law with restrictions that prohibit insurance companies from using public funds for abortion coverage. The ACA’s Nelson Amendment requires plans sold on the marketplaces that cover abortion to segregate a consumer’s payment to ensure that federal funds (tax credits and CSRs) are not used to pay for abortion services except in the cases of life-endangerment, rape, or incest. After the ACA was passed, President Obama even signed an executive order to emphasize that none of its funds can be used to cover abortion services. Even anti-abortion Republicans agree that the new proposed language is a solution in search of a problem: Senator Lamar Alexander cited his 100% pro-life rating when he clarified that the traditional Hyde restrictions already apply to Affordable Care Act funding.

It is no coincidence Republicans started to aggressively push to expand this federal abortion restriction when it started to look like bipartisan stabilization could succeed. When Republicans’ constituents face double-digit premium increases in the fall because their Congressmen scuttled stabilization, they’ll know exactly who to blame.

 

 

Dean Heller Traded Thousands of Nevadans’ Health Care for This One Trump Tweet

The tweet:

Heller’s political payoff:

Heller GOP Primary Challenger Tarkanian drops out of U.S. Senate race, jumps into 3rd Congressional District at Trump’s request [Nevada Independent, 3/16/18]

And the price Heller paid Trump?

Voting for a bill that HE HIMSELF saidtakes insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans” after Trump threatened: “He wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?”

Trump rewards loyalty in Nevada and shows the power he wields over GOP [CNN, 3/17/18]

Last summer when Sen. Dean Heller was considering bucking President Donald Trump on health care, the president issued a not-so-subtle threat to the vulnerable Nevada Republican. “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?” Trump said at a meeting at the White House with GOP senators. Heller laughed off the comment, but GOP senators were alarmed. And 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.

Meet the Press Guest: Republicans Could Lose the House in 2018 Because of Affordable Care Act Repeal Attempts

Washington, D.C. – This morning on Meet the Press, Cook Political Report National Editor Amy Walter told Chuck Todd: “Republicans could lose the House in 2018 by trying to repeal Obamacare.” Here are Walter’s full remarks:

“It was in Pennsylvania-18 where the generic ballot, when you ask that question right before the election, was 42-42 in a district that Trump carried by twenty points. The challenge for Republicans right now isn’t just that the President is unpopular and has lost popularity even in districts he won in 2016 – the Party’s unpopular, and the issues are unpopular. What Conor Lamb talked about, and Senator Brown raised this, about the issue of health care, is gonna be a big issue in this election. The irony is Democrats lost the House in 2010 on Obamacare, Republicans could lose the House in 2018 by trying to repeal Obamacare.”

Watch the full clip here.

After PA-18 Defeat, GOP Continues to Sabotage Health Care In So-Called Stabilization Bill

Washington, D.C. – Following the major role health care played in Democratic Congressman-elect Conor Lamb’s upset victory in PA-18, studies showing that Republican sabotage and repeal could raise premiums up to 94%, and despite all that, reports of ongoing Republican efforts to sabotage health care in the upcoming Omnibus,  Protect Our Care Campaign Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“Despite Tuesday’s groundbreaking election in Pennsylvania, the clearest wake-up call yet that GOP health care sabotage is an albatross around the neck of anyone who supports it, Congressional Republicans continue to sabotage Americans’ health care, pushing a stabilization package that would not even begin to undo the damage they have done, and launching new attacks on women’s health.

“Because President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have been trying to repeal and sabotage our health care for over a year, premiums are up twenty percent and millions of Americans have lost their coverage. But instead of addressing the very real damage they have caused in order to lower premiums, Republicans would rather attacks women’s health and encourage insurance companies to offer junk plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

“Enough is enough. It’s time for the GOP to stop this war on our health care. If President Trump and Congressional Republicans think that grandstanding on a stabilization bill to fix their own wreckage will give them political cover, they are dead wrong.”

BACKGROUND

THE GOP HAS ATTEMPTED TO SABOTAGE AMERICANS’ HEALTH CARE AT EVERY TURN

From the moment that Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans took power, they’ve done everything they can to repeal and sabotage Americans’ health care. Now they’re claiming they want to stabilize the marketplaces and lower premiums. This false rhetoric is merely the latest ploy from Republicans who have seen the writing on the wall – Americans are furious about the Republican repeal-and-sabotage agenda.

For the better part of a year, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act legislatively, striving to kick 32 million Americans off of their coverage and returning to the days when insurers had the power to choose who to deny coverage to by removing protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

When this failed, they doubled down on their administrative sabotage, carrying out a closed-door campaign to undermine the law through administrative actions. These included cancelling cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments designed to lower premiums; using funding for coverage enrollment to launch a propaganda campaign against the law; and attempting to gut open enrollment by reducing the advertising budget by 90% percent, costing an additional 1.1 million people coverage.

These repeal-and-sabotage attempts culminated in December, when the GOP voted to get rid of the individual mandate in their tax scam, ripping insurance away from ten million people and raising premiums double-digits for millions more in order to finance a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans and corporations.

In the time since, President Trump and his allies in Congress have promoted short-term health policies, which neglect key consumer protection provisions such as protections for those with pre-existing conditions and coverage mandates for essential benefits like maternity care; they have supported association health plans (AHPs), which raise costs for people with pre-existing conditions and further destabilize the insurance markets; and they have encouraged states to promote plans which violate the law, promoting and end-run around the ACA despite such procedures being labeled “wildly illegal.”

A study from the Urban Institute found that this sabotage will result in an increase in individual market premiums by an average of 18.2 percent for 2019.

THE GOP HAS REFUSED TO ACT ON MEASURES TO ACTUALLY STABILIZE THE MARKETS

What the GOP has not done through all of this, however, is undertake a genuine effort to actually stabilize the marketplaces.

Following the collapse of the legislative repeal bills in July, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) began holding hearings on stabilization, bringing in insurance commissioners, governors, and health care experts of both parties. The GOP refused to act on their recommendations, however, instead pivoting to yet another attempt to repeal the ACA through the Graham-Cassidy legislation.

After Graham-Cassidy, which would have kicked twenty million Americans’ off of their insurance and raised premiums double-digits went down in flames, the GOP went through yet another charade on stabilization, refusing to move forward on the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill to address stabilization despite it having a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

A STABILIZATION BILL MUST ACTUALLY STABILIZE THE MARKETPLACE

Now, the GOP says it wants to support stabilization measures. Where was this in the winter, when notices of skyrocketing premiums were going out across the country? Where was this in the fall, when experts were on Capitol Hill lamenting the damage being done to the marketplace? Where was this in the summer, when advocates were begging the GOP to do something rather than push forward yet another repeal bill?

Congressional Republican efforts to undo the damage they and President Trump have caused are wholly insufficient and often turn to failed ideas like high risk pools, which will leave Americans with higher costs and worse coverage. Any bill to stabilize the insurance marketplaces and reverse Republican-caused sabotage must:

  • Expand affordability by increasing the value of premium tax credits and cost-sharing reduction protections;
  • Ensure cost sharing protections fulfill their original purpose of improving affordability and Basic Health Plans are fully funded in order to protect coverage levels;
  • Apply the consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act – such as guaranteed issue, community rating, protections for preexisting conditions – to short term duration plans and protect the essential health benefits from being undermined;
  • Provide for a national meaningful reinsurance program that reduces current premium levels and stabilizes the market;
  • Adequately fund outreach and enrollment efforts;
  • Reject bringing back high-risk pools and Association Health Plans; two failed experiments that would have a destabilizing effect on the marketplace by incentivizing healthier individuals to leave the ACA compliant market, thereby negatively affecting the risk pool and increasing premiums; and
  • Reject punitive and duplicative new anti-choice restrictions on health centers.

Many of the above provisions are included in the recent bills introduced in the Senate by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and in the House by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Richard Neal (D-MA), and Bobby Scott (D-VA). If Republicans in Congress truly care about stabilization, they will work with Democrats to adopt these provisions and implement a bipartisan, common-sense package to lower premiums and expand coverage options. Anything else is just crocodile tears from elected officials more worried about partisan politics than about Americans’ health.

REACTION ROUNDUP: Health Care Proves Political Asset for Democrats in PA-18

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES REACT

Allison Stephens, D-Candidate for NV04: “In #PA18, 53% of dem voters & 63% of independent voters were opposed to #ACA repeal. One thing is clear: healthcare will be a deciding issue in 2018. The GOP must abandon repeal. We need access to quality, affordable healthcare in #NV04. #ProtectOurCare” [Allison Stephens, 3/14/18]

Christina Hartman, D-Candidate for PA10: “My opponent @RepScottPerry is a member of the House @freedomcaucus that pushed to gut protections for those with preexisting conditions. #PA10 voters will remember in November. #PA18 @ProtectOurCare #TrumpCare” [Christina Hartman, 3/14/18]

Pat Ryan, D-Candidate for NY19: “Must continue to remind voters in #NY19 that @RepJohnFaso (and fellow Rs) voted to rip healthcare away from our community. Protecting healthcare for working families key to @ConorLambPA victory in #PA18; cc @1199UpstateNY #ProtectOurCare” [Pat Ryan, 3/14/18]

Eddie Sundquist, D-Candidate for NY23: “ The voters of #PA18 proved that we will not stand idly by when Republicans like @RepTomReed vote to take away healthcare from 68,000 #NY23 constituents. A diagnosis should not be a death sentence or mean financial ruin.” [Eddie Sundquist, 3/14/18]

TOP INFLUENCERS: THIS IS BIG

Andy Slavitt, top Obama Administration health official: “BREAKING: Even with #PA18 officially too close to call, health care voters carried the day. 52% of voters ranked health care as a top issue. By 64-36, those voters favored @ConorLambPA.” [Andy Slavitt, 3/14/18]

Tom Perez: “That’s when we do well. That’s how Doug Jones won. He was talking about kitchen table issues, he was talking about healthcare. Conor Lamb was talking about health care… that’s how we’re winning elections by talking about those shared issues. That’s what Conor was fighting for. He was fighting for access to health care — the number one issue for voters in district 18, as it was across the country was health care. And they understand that Democrats believe health care should be a right for all and not a privilege for many.” [MSNBC, 3/14/18]

Mario Molina, former CEO of Molina Healthcare: “Reassuring to hear @ConorLambPA talk about the importance and support of critical health and safety net programs. “They are America’s way of saying, ‘We are all in this together.'” [Mario Molina, 3/14/18]

Steven Dennis, Bloomberg reporter: “ACA opposition *used* to be solid gold for GOP Conor Lamb took mend it, don’t end it position; PPP (D) poll found ACA at 44/42 approval in #PA18” [Steven Dennis, 3/14/18]

DNC: Voters Reject Trump-Republican Agenda. “Health care was a top issue in last night’s election and Conor Lamb won those voters by a wide margin, making it clear voters reject Republican policies that have already left millions more Americans without health insurance and sent premiums skyrocketing.” [DNC to press list, 3/14/18]

Topher Spiro, Vice President for health policy at Center for American Progress: “BOOM. This is it. Any vulnerable Republican who voted to repeal health care is toast.” [Topher Spiro, 3/14/18]

Jonathan Cohn, Senior National Correspondent at Huffington Post: “Maybe trying to take health insurance from millions of people is a political loser.” [Jonathan Cohn, 3/14/18]

HOW IT PLAYED IN THE HEADLINES

The Week: GOP efforts to kill ObamaCare might have tipped the scales for Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania’s special election [3/14/18]

ThinkProgress: Pennsylvania voters say the GOP’s health care antics cost Saccone their vote [3/14/18]

Daily Intelligencer: 5 Lessons From the Pennsylvania Special Election [3/14/18]

MarketWatch: Pennsylvania Democrat Lamb had upper hand with voters on health care, poll finds [3/14/18]

Vox: Conor Lamb decisively won the health care vote in the Pennsylvania special election [3/14/18]

Exit Poll of PA-18 Shows Lamb Won Big On Health Care

Public Policy Polling conducted a telephone exit poll election survey of voters who cast ballots in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District special election yesterday. Voters who voted in the contest were asked about the role of health care in their decision.

The exit poll shows that health care was a top priority issue to voters in this district and that voters believed Democrat Conor Lamb’s views were more in step with theirs.

In 2016, voters in this district backed Donald Trump by 20 points, but last night they backed a Democrat for Congress in a referendum on the health care plans of the Republican Congress:

-Health care was a top issue to voters. Health care was ranked as a top issue for 52% of voters (15% saying it was the most important issue and another 37% saying it was very important). Only 19% said it was not that important or not important at all.

– Conor Lamb won big especially among voters for whom health care was a top priority. Among voters who said health care was the most important issue for them, Lamb beat Rick Saccone 64-36 and among the broader group of voters who said it was either the most important or a very important issue Lamb beat Saccone 62-38.

– On health care, voters said Lamb better reflected their views by 7 points (45% to 38%) over Saccone. With independents, that gap widened to 16 points with 50% saying Lamb’s health care views were more in line with theirs to only 34% for Saccone.

– Voters were less likely to support Saccone because of the Republican health care agenda. Saccone’s support of the Republican health care agenda made 41% of voters less likely to vote for him and only 28% more likely to support him.

-Voters in this heavily Republican district disapproved of the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act by 14 points (53% to 39%).

– 48% of voters believed Republicans are now trying to undermine and sabotage it since they failed to repeal it. Among independent voters, the disparity is even wider with only 33% supporting the GOP’s health care repeal efforts to 63% opposing them.

-In this deeply red district, 44% of voters support the Affordable Care Act while 42% oppose it.

– Only 38% of voters think the best path forward on health care is to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to 59% who think it should be kept in place with fixes made to it as necessary.

Read the full post-election survey here: PA18PostElectionSurvey