Monthly Archives

April 2018

Protect Our Care Statement on Idaho Medicaid Expansion Ballot Question Success

Washington, D.C. – After Idaho health care advocates announced that they have collected more than enough signatures to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot this November, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“While Idaho Governor Butch Otter was working to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, the people of Idaho were quietly working to secure a vote on covering 62,000 more of their neighbors by expanding Medicaid. Today they succeeded. Republican-governed states would do well to take heed: when you actively work to make your constituents’ health coverage worse, citizens take matters into their own hands. Congratulations to the people of Idaho, and especially to the committed grassroots activists who secured today’s success. I couldn’t imagine a better way to cap off this year’s Medicaid Awareness Month.”

New Protect Our Care Ad: As Premiums Increase, Americans Should Thank Donald Trump & Congressional Republicans

Washington, D.C. – This year, Protect Our Care is kicking off May’s focus, Repeal and Sabotage Accountability Month, by releasing a web ad highlighting the consequences of Republicans’ deliberate health care repeal and sabotage campaign: a 20 percent rate hike set to hit working families while health insurance and pharmaceutical companies reap the windfalls of the GOP’s trillion-dollar tax break.

“From the moment he took office, President Trump has launched attack after attack on our health care, and Congressional Republicans have been eager to help. They tried to repeal the law; they attempted to undermine open enrollment; they promised to make the law fail; and they’ve proposed expanding junk insurance plans that would take us back to the days when insurance companies could impose sky-high rates on people with pre-existing conditions, or deny them coverage altogether. Now, Republican sabotage has left working people holding the bill. Every American who faces higher health care costs this year and next can thank Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans,” said Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse.

Watch the ad here.

Ad script:

Are you sick and tired of Washington forcing your health care costs to go up? And up. And up.

For more than a year, Donald Trump and Republicans have sabotaged our health care…

… They ordered the government to dismantle the law.

… Then they made it harder for people to enroll.

… Then they proposed ways for insurance companies to deny care and discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.

Doctors, patient groups, and health experts say the sabotage has a cost: higher premiums for you and your family – nearly 20% higher or more.

All this while their tax bill gave health insurance and pharmaceutical companies huge tax breaks.

Republicans and President Trump promised premiums would be lower but it’s their sabotage that is jacking up rates 20%.

People who work for a living? They just get higher costs.

And they keep going higher.

Enough is enough. Tell Republicans to stop the sabotage.  End the war on our health care.

Advocates Nationwide Highlight How Medicaid Supports People with Disabilities

Throughout the fourth and final week of Medicaid Awareness Month, advocates across the country highlighted the significant role Medicaid plays in supporting Americans with disabilities, and spoke out against Republican proposals to weaken and cut Medicaid.

How does Medicaid help Americans with disabilities? Here are some of the many ways:

  • 8.7 million nonelderly adults with disabilities depend on Medicaid for care. Nearly 8.7 million adults enrolled in Medicaid have a disability. Of this group, only 43 percent qualify for social security income.
  • More than 1 in 3 adults under age 65 enrolled in Medicaid lives with at least one disability. Nearly 45 percent of adults with disabilities have Medicaid coverage. Medicaid covers 45 percent of nonelderly adults with disabilities, including adults with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, brain injuries, and mental illness.
  • Medicaid covers nearly a third of adults with disabilities. 31 percent of U.S. adults with disabilities have Medicaid coverage.
  • More than half of adults with disabilities covered through Medicaid earn less than 100 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL). A majority, 52 percent, of adults with disabilities who have Medicaid coverage earn annual incomes of less than l 00 percent of the FPL, $12,060 for an individual, and could not afford needed care without the program.
  • Medicaid helps people who need long-term care to stay in their communities. Of nonelderly people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid for long-term care, 80 percent receive community-based care, while only 20 percent receive institutional care.

At the Main State House, Nancy Cronin, the Executive Director of the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council, Sara Squires, the Public Policy Director of Disability Rights Maine, and Rebecca London, the State Director of Protect Our Care Maine, held a press conference to discuss how Medicaid benefits Americans with disabilities.

Dawn Alford, Public Policy Director, Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, posted Medicaid: A Lifeline to the Community on Community Catalyst’s Health Policy Hub to highlight the importance of Medicaid to Georgians with disabilities.

A new survey from Public Policy Polling found that voters nationally strongly support Medicaid and are opposed to cutting it, especially to fund tax breaks. Among its findings:

  • 66% of voters oppose cutting Medicaid, as opposed to just 19% who support cuts. 74% of Democrats and Independents oppose cutting Medicaid, while a plurality of Republicans, 49%,  also oppose cuts. In fact, only 34% of Republicans support cutting Medicaid.
  • 71% of voters overall say they are opposed to cutting Medicaid to fund the GOP tax scam which passed last year, including 82% of Democrats, 70% of Independents, and 60% of Republicans.
  • A majority of voters (52%) want to see Medicaid expanded, compared to just 35% who don’t.
  • Learning that Medicaid covers 6 in 10 nursing home residents and 40 percent of costs for long-term care that seniors depend on made voters 63% less likely to support cuts. Voters were 53% less likely to support cuts after learning that if Medicaid funding is cut, 1 in 5 Americans – seniors, children, and individuals with disabilities – will be at risk of losing access to healthcare.

Leading advocates hosted press calls across the country to convey just how important Medicaid is to those with disabilities in communities across the country. In Nevada, parents from the organization Positively Kids spoke of the role it plays for their children with disabilities; in Tennessee, community leaders discussed how Medicaid supports Tennesseans with disabilities; and in Ohio, local physicians and health care experts called out gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine’s refusal to clarify his Medicaid position and explained the problems which would occur should the state’s expansion be rolled back.

And as Medicaid Awareness Month wraps up, the Conway Daily Sun published a comprehensive overview about the importance of Medicaid to New Hampshire communities and shared information about how to enroll.

A Year Ago Today: Remember in November

Just a year ago, Republicans in Congress voted to take away 23 million Americans’ health care. Click to share the tweets below with the hashtag #RememberInNovember!

[vc_button button_color=”accent” size=”btn-lg” border_width=”0″ link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fhome%3Fstatus%3DJust%2520a%2520year%2520ago%2C%2520the%2520%2540GOP%2520voted%2520to%2520take%2520away%252023%2520million%2520Americans%2527%2520health%2520care.%2520https%253A%2F%2Fbit.ly%2F2Hu8kqi%2520%2523RememberInNovember%2520%2523AHCA||target:%20_blank|”]Share on Twitter[/vc_button]

[vc_button button_color=”accent” size=”btn-lg” border_width=”0″ link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fhome%3Fstatus%3DJust%2520a%2520year%2520ago%2C%2520the%2520%2540GOP%2520voted%2520to%2520take%2520away%252023%2520million%2520Americans%2527%2520health%2520care.%2520https%253A%2F%2Fbit.ly%2F2Hu8kqi%2520%2523RememberInNovember%2520%2523AHCA||target:%20_blank|”]Share on Twitter[/vc_button]

Republicans Continue Plotting Repeal

Washington, D.C. – The conservative Washington Examiner reports that repeal of the Affordable Care Act “may be closer than you think.” In response, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“If it’s a day that ends in Y, Republicans are scheming to take away our health care. Today’s report confirms that Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell will stop at nothing to take us back to the days when insurance companies called the shots. The bill they seek to revive would force millions off coverage, make health care even more expensive, get rid of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, re-implement lifetime coverage caps, and slash Medicaid. Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to end its war on our health care.”

Obamacare repeal may be closer than you think
Washington Examiner // Quin Hillyer // April 26, 2018

Time and opportunity still exist to replace Obamacare.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., ought to make it a priority, and should make clear he is open to pushing through a budget resolution next month to make it happen.

It can’t happen without the budget resolution, because that’s the only way they can avoid a bill-killing filibuster and pass the healthcare reform with a bare majority of 50 votes (plus Vice President Mike Pence) in the Senate.

I reported in January that a number of conservative groups, under the leadership of former Sen. Rick Santorum, was working hard to craft a new Obamacare replacement that could both pass Congress and work well in the real world. Behind the scenes, those groups (indeed, representatives from a growing number of groups) have continued to meet and tweak their plan, and they seem just a few weeks away from being able to unveil it.

When they unveil it, expect a host of such groups to make a concerted effort to rally grassroots support and give courage to House and Senate members to pass it. This is an amazing, even unprecedented project, truly growing up from activists and thinkers rather than being the usual top-down, elected-official-led exercise in sausage-making.

I listened in on a March 21 conference call among numerous interested parties, and received further updates within the past week from Santorum.

The White House has been quietly but constructively supportive of the project, I am told, and should provide strategic and communications support this time that is well planned, rather than the more seat-of-the-pants effort we all saw last year. Pence, in particular, has been personally engaged.

Politically, the now-defunct assessment had been that passing a health-policy overhaul would scare too much of the public in an election year, making it a nonstarter. The growing understanding, though, is that Republicans are already at risk of losing to a “blue wave” this fall anyway, and that bold action to energize conservative grassroots might be the only way to stop the wave.

The Left is going to be energized this fall regardless of what Congress does, and those parts of professional suburbia that just won’t vote for Republicans under Trump also aren’t going to become even more anti-GOP than they already are. Indeed, as this is exactly the demographic that suffers the most under Obamacare, it might be slightly less likely, not more, to oppose the GOP if Republicans do actually pass reform.

But giving conservative voters a “win” on Obamacare would surely drive up Republican turnout.

Substantively, the bill design has evolved since January. It still uses the basic template of last year’s Graham-Cassidy bill, but only in the sense that it would remain a system of block grants to the states. As in January, it still envisions a significant expansion of health savings accounts — indeed, from January’s thought of doubling the existing number of HSAs, the new plan now may quadruple them — and also a guarantee that individuals served by state-government-run plans can opt-out and use the money in private markets instead.

A key development, however, has emerged since January. It should help garner the votes of previously recalcitrant Senate Republicans. Under the original Graham-Cassidy bill, the formula for the block grants was seen by some as disfavoring states that already expanded Medicaid coverage under Obamacare. The new formula phases in the grants in a way that ensures those particular states will not see what amounts to short-term cuts in federal funding.

This might make the new plan slightly more expensive in the short run, but still well within budgetary parameters, and still better than deficit-neutral. Moreover, the bill’s designers keep tweaking it to produce better risk-mitigation concepts and other ways to keep premiums lower.

Politically, the effort got a huge boost when Democrats (ironically) killed efforts to include an Obamacare insurance bailout within the recent budget agreement and spending bills. With that effort dead, key players such as Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., have indicated renewed willingness to go for a “big fix” because their smaller efforts to patch existing law are now dead.

In the end, this is not just about budgetary bean-counting or an attempt to gain political bragging rights. This is about better serving patients, giving them more options and making healthcare more affordable.

Organizers hope Americans sick of the broken Obamacare system will start calling their members of Congress now, urging them to try again. It’s a worthy undertaking.

This Week in the War on Health Care

While cabinet officials were coming and going this week, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened this week in the war on health care – and two reminders of what its consequences will be:

TRUMP TARGETS NATIVE AMERICANS’ HEALTH CARE

This week, Politico reported the Trump Administration may impose work requirements on Native Americans who have Medicaid coverage. These requirements are burdensome, unnecessary, and expensive to administer, representing nothing more than another form of health care sabotage.

Medicaid is vital to the health and well-being of vulnerable populations, and imposing additional barriers upon Native Americans to access health care is mean-spirited and wrong. It’s time for Congress and the American people to speak out against President Trump’s ongoing war on health care and ensure that policies like these are reversed or don’t see the light of day in the first place.

THOSE WHO KNOW BEST BLAST SHORT-TERM PLANS

Monday represented the final day of the comment period for the Trump Administration’s proposed short-term junk insurance plans. Those who know health care the best – a variety of health care experts, including doctors, insurance exchange operators, insurance companies, analysts, and more than 100 patient groups – blasted the plans. Among those who urged their rejection:

  • American Medical Association: The proposed rule “would result in substandard, inadequate health insurance coverage.” [Forbes, 4/22]
  • American Academy Of Family Physicians: “Short-term, limited-duration plans will not provide meaningful insurance coverage.” [AFP, 4/18]
  • Alliance Of Community Health Plans: “the proposed rule will undermine consumer protections.” [ACHP, 4/19]
  • 21 Patient Groups: “Given the history of discrimination and inadequate coverage within short-term limited-duration plans, we are deeply concerned that the proposed rule could seriously undermine the key principles of access, adequacy, and affordability that are the underpinnings of current law – and put those we represent at enormous risk. [ACS-CAN, 4/23]

The full list of health care experts who expressed their oppositions can be found here.

SEN. SCHUMER PUTS GOP ON NOTICE FOR UPCOMING HIKES

Today on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put Republicans on notice: as preliminary rate hikes for next year begin to roll out, Democrats will speak out loudly and often about how President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage campaign against Americans’ health care will leave working families holding the bill.

President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have undertaken a deliberate, aggressive campaign to sow chaos in the health insurance marketplace, and the consequences of their actions will soon become clear. Every American who sees rate hike announcements can thank one group of people: President Trump and Republicans in Congress. And results at the polls are showing just how thankful folks are…

HEALTH CARE PLAYS DECISIVE ROLE IN ARIZONA SPECIAL ELECTION

On Tuesday night, a telephone exit poll surveyed survey of voters who cast ballots in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District special election. Here’s what polling in this overwhelmingly Republican district found:

  • Health care was a top issue to voters. Health care was ranked as a top issue for 58% of voters, and Democrat Hiral Tipirneni won big especially among these voters, 65-33.
  • Voters said Tipirneni better reflected their health care views. Among all voters, Tiperini won by 2 points, 45-43. Among independents, that gap widened to 30 points, with 57% saying Tipirneni health care views were more in line with theirs to only 27% for Debbie Lesko.
  • Voters were less likely to support Lesko because of the GOP health care agenda. Lesko’s support of the Republican health care agenda made 40% of voters less likely to vote for her and only 33% more likely to support her.
  • Voters favored ACA improvements over repeal. Voters disapproved of the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act by 5 points, 49-44, and just 41% of voters said the best path forward on health care is to repeal the ACA, while 54% said it should be improved.

As Vox’s Dylan Scott noted, “Republicans should be terrified of health care in the 2018 midterm elections.”

Schumer Puts Trump, Republicans On Notice for Upcoming Rate Hikes

Washington, D.C. – Today on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) put Republicans on notice: as preliminary rate hikes for next year begin to roll out, Democrats will speak out loudly and often about how  President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage campaign against Americans’ health care will leave working families holding the bill.

In response, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse said: “Sen. Schumer hit the nail on the head – President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have undertaken a deliberate, aggressive campaign to sow chaos in the health insurance marketplace, and the consequences of their actions will soon become clear. Every American who sees rate hike announcements as soon as next week can thank one group of people: President Trump and Republicans in Congress.”

TRANSCRIPT

“Finally, on another matter, health care. Next week, health insurance companies will begin to announce their initial proposed rates for 2019 in each state across the country. And when they do, every American should remember that President Trump and Congressional Republicans have spent the past year and half trying to sabotage our health care system in a way that could increase costs and decrease access to quality health care.

“It’s true that last summer, the Senate Republican effort to repeal our current health care system and gut Medicaid — an effort that would have left tens of millions uninsured and raised costs on millions more — ended, thankfully for the American people, in failure.

“Despite that legislative failure, President Trump, his administration, and Congressional Republicans have committed several other acts of sabotage, raising premiums and hurting health care, all, it seems to me, for a political vendetta.

“For a long time, the president refused to guarantee that the administration will honor the cost-sharing program, which reduces premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for low-income Americans. He eventually cancelled payments for that program, causing major uncertainty and confusion in the markets.

“Then, Republicans repealed the health care coverage requirement as a part of their tax bill and put nothing in its place. The CBO projects that repealing the coverage requirement could cause rates to increase by as much as 10% and result in millions more people without insurance, so if you can’t get insurance, Mr. or Mrs. American, or if your premiums are going up you’ll know who caused it: the president, and Congressional Republicans by sabotaging a law that the majority of Americans want to see stay on the books.

“And making things worse, earlier this week, the comment period ended for a proposed Trump administration rule that is perhaps that most radical sabotage of our health care system yet — a rule that would expand the availability of junk insurance plans. These junk insurance plans would force higher premiums on people with pre-existing conditions, impose an “age tax” on older Americans, and once again could subject Americans to the devastating effects of medical bankruptcy, which too many people go through now. Many plans might not cover essential services like prescription drugs, maternity care, and mental health services.

“Each of these actions taken by President Trump and Republicans in Congress will raise costs and reduce access. We are truly living under “Trumpcare” today, with no effort by the president or Congressional Republicans to make it better.

“And, unfortunately, starting next week, the American people could see the devastating consequences of a year and half of health care sabotage reflected in the 2019 rates.”

Exit Poll of AZ-08 Shows Health Care Made Race Close

From: Tom Jensen, Public Policy Polling

To: Interested Parties

Subject: Exit Poll of AZ-08 Shows Health Care Made Race Close

Date: April 24, 2018

Public Policy Polling conducted a telephone exit poll election survey of voters who cast ballots in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District special election yesterday. Voters who voted in the contest were asked about the role of health care in their decision.

In this overwhelmingly Republican district, the exit poll shows that health care was a top priority issue to voters and that they believed Democrats’ views were more in step with theirs on the issue. That’s a big part of why the race was so much closer than expected based on the history of the district.

In 2016, voters in this district backed Donald Trump by 21 points and, in 2012, they backed Mitt Romney by 25 points. GOP Governor Doug Ducey won the district by 27 points in 2014.

Health care was a top issue to voters. Health care was ranked as a top issue for 58% of voters (20% saying it was the most important issue and another 38% saying it was very important). Only 17% said it was not that important or not important at all.

  • Hiral Tipirneni 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, Tipirneni beat Lesko 65-33.

On health care, voters said Tipirneni better reflected their views by 2 points (45% to 43%) over Lesko. With independents, that gap widened to 30 points with 57% saying Tipirneni’s health care views were more in line with theirs to only 27% for Lesko.

Voters were less likely to support Lesko because of the Republican health care agenda. Lesko’s support of the Republican health care agenda made 40% of voters less likely to vote for her and only 33% more likely to support her.

Voters in this heavily Republican district disapproved of the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act by 5 points (49% to 44%).

  • Only 41% of voters think the best path forward on health care is to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to 54% who think it should be kept in place with fixes made to it as necessary.

PPP surveyed 516 AZ-08 voters on April 24th. The margin of error is +/- 4.3%. This survey was a project of Protect Our Care.

Trump Administration Targets Native Americans As GOP War on Health Care Continues

Washington, D.C. – This week, Politico reported that the Trump Administration may impose work requirements on Native Americans who have Medicaid coverage. Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement in response:

“Medicaid work requirements are yet another form of health care sabotage: nothing more, nothing less.  They serve no purpose but to shrink Medicaid enrollment, a goal that President Trump and Republicans continue to pursue through administrative sabotage as well as their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. These requirements are burdensome, unnecessary, and expensive to administer, and now the Trump Administration has decided to target Native Americans’ coverage, marking a new low in their war on health care.  

“Enough already. Medicaid is vital to the health and well-being of vulnerable populations – children, seniors, Americans with disabilities, and Native Americans – who frequently face unique barriers to high-quality health care, and imposing additional barriers upon Native Americans to access health care is mean-spirited and wrong. We urge Congress and the American people to speak out against President Trump’s ongoing war on health care and ensure that policies like these are reversed or don’t see the light of day in the first place.”  

BACKGROUND

This Is Not The Trump Administration’s First Attack On Native Americans’ Health: “The Trump administration also targeted the Indian Health Service for significant cuts in last year’s budget, though Congress ignored those cuts in its omnibus funding package last month, H.R. 1625 (115). The White House budget this year proposed eliminating popular initiatives like the decades-old community health representative program — even though tribal health officials say it is essential.” [Politico, 4/22/18]

Caitrin McCarron Shuy, Indian National Health Board: “It’s Very Troublesome.” “‘It’s very troublesome,’ said Caitrin McCarron Shuy of the National Indian Health Board, noting that Native Americans suffer from the nation’s highest drug overdose death rates, among other health concerns. ‘There’s high unemployment in Indian country, and it’s going to create a barrier to accessing necessary Medicaid services.’” [Politico, 4/22/18]

POLL: Voters Strongly Support Medicaid, Oppose Any Cuts

To: Interested Parties

From: Jim Williams, Public Policy Polling

Subject: Voters Strongly Support Medicaid,  Oppose Any Cuts

Date: 4-24-18

A new national Public Policy Polling survey finds that voters nationally strongly support Medicaid and are opposed to cutting it, especially to fund tax breaks. 66% of voters oppose cutting Medicaid, as opposed to just 19% who support cuts.  

  • 74% of Democrats and Independents oppose cutting Medicaid, while a plurality of Republicans, 49%,  also oppose cuts.
  • Only 34% of Republicans support cutting Medicaid.

71% of voters overall say they are opposed to cutting Medicaid to fund the Republican tax plan passed last year – including 82% of Democrats, 70% of Independents and 60% of Republicans. Rather than cut Medicaid, a majority of voters (52%) want to see it expanded, compared to just 35% who don’t.

  • Learning that Medicaid covers 6 in 10 nursing home residents, and 40 percent of costs for long-term care that seniors depend on, made voters 63% less likely to support cuts.
  • Voters were 53% less likely to support cuts after learning that if Medicaid funding is cut, 1 in 5 Americans—seniors, children, and individuals with disabilities—will be at risk of losing access to healthcare.

When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, 66% say they want to keep what works about the law and fix what doesn’t, while just 29% say they want to repeal it and start over with a new healthcare law. 82% of Democrats and 68% of Independents want to keep and fix the law and , 44% of Republicans want to keep what works about the ACA.  

Public Policy Polling interviewed 741 national registered voters on April 18-19, 2018. The margin of error for the survey is +/-2.1%. This survey was conducted using automated telephone interviews. The poll was conducted jointly for Protect our Care and SEIU.