It appears that CMS Administrator Seema Verma wasn’t just using her official Twitter account this week to congratulate her agency on high Affordable Care Act enrollment, then smear the law seconds later. Huffington Post reporter Jonathan Cohn also captured a Tweeted-and-deleted endorsement of an op-ed that advised insurance companies to discriminate against the one in four Americans with a pre-existing condition:
In response, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse said:
“Instead of deleting tweets, Administrator Verma should just admit that she thinks sick people don’t deserve insurance. The American people have made it very clear that we don’t want to go back to the days before the Affordable Care Act when insurance companies could discriminate against the one in four Americans with a pre-existing condition. But that’s exactly what Donald Trump, Seema Verma, and Republicans in Congress want, and it’s what they’re going to keep trying to do until Americans hold Republicans accountable for their war on our health care.”
Despite the Congressional recess, this week, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened in the war on health care – and why, despite these efforts, the past seven days showed the Affordable Care Act is here to stay:
IOWA REPUBLICANS PRIORITIZE INSURERS’ PROFITS OVER IOWANS’ HEALTH
On Monday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation allowing for the sale of association health plans and ‘benefit plans’ which don’t meet Affordable Care Act requirements, taking Iowa back to the days when insurers could discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions and refuse to cover essential health benefits, paving the way for even higher premiums and further market destabilization.
In an editorial, “Elected officials undermine Iowans’ health insurance,” the Des Moines Register Editorial Board condemned the GOP’s efforts:
“The bill clears the way for the creation of unregulated, undefined health insurance exempted from ACA mandates. These mandates include requirements on insurers to cover hospitalization, prescriptions, preventive care and other health services people need. The new plans would not be considered ‘insurance’ and therefore would not be subject to state and federal rules… Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, was among the biggest supporters of this insurance free-for-all. ‘We have tried this before,’ he said, referring to the days before the enactment of Obamacare. ‘This was how the system worked.’ Oh brother. Yes, senator, we have tried this before. This is how the system used to work. It was an unmitigated disaster and the driving force behind Congress crafting health reform.”
HIDDEN COSTS OF SABOTAGE – QUANTIFIED
On Tuesday, new Kaiser Family Foundation polling was released, confirming Americans’ mounting anxiety about ongoing GOP health care sabotage. Key takeaways included:
About half the public believes ACA marketplaces are “collapsing,” including six in ten of those who purchased marketplace coverage. While this reflects the ongoing uncertainty caused by President Trump and Congressional Republicans, it contradicts what the President’s own economic advisors have confirmed about the stability and strength of the individual market.
Because of Republican sabotage, the number of people who are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” that rate hikes will make coverage unaffordable has skyrocketed to 67%, compared with 38% in October 2017.
One-third of individual market shoppers say the individual mandate was a “major reason” they bought insurance, with one in ten saying they will not buy coverage without it. With research indicating those most likely to drop coverage are young people, the CBO forecasts average yearly premiums in the nongroup market will increase by 10% over the next decade.
Despite everything the GOP has thrown at it, the Affordable Care Act still protects every American with health insurance and provides millions of previously uninsured people with coverage – and Americans recognize and appreciate this.
TRUMP’S OWN POLLSTERS FIND ACA POPULAR, HEALTH CARE COSTS TOP VOTERS’ MINDS
New polling from America First, compiled by President Trump’s own pollsters, found lowering the cost of health care to be the top issue voters want addressed in 2018, and these voters favoring fixes to the Affordable Care Act over repeal by a 47 to 34 percent margin.
With President Trump’s own pollsters finding that keeping the ACA has a double-digit advantage over repeal and rising health care costs are the number-one issue on voters’ minds, it couldn’t be more clear that the Republican war on health care is failing. The GOP would do well to finally start listening to the American people who continue to say: enough is enough – end the war on our health care.
ENROLLMENT NUMBERS CONFIRM ACA’S STAYING POWER
This week also saw the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services release the final open enrollment numbers for 2018, which showed that 11.8 million people nationwide bought marketplace coverage.
For nearly a year, the Trump Administration carried out a rampant, unprecedented sabotage campaign against open enrollment, which included cutting the advertising budget by 90 percent, halving the enrollment time, and denying help for people trying to obtain coverage.
But millions of Americans rely on the ACA for quality, affordable coverage, and they made sure to obtain coverage in spite of partisan fear mongering and numerous obstacles placed in their way. The American people don’t want to go back to a time when insurers could deny them health care for having a pre-existing condition or be priced out of the market based on their age, gender, or medical history – and continued attempts to undermine the law will only be met with further resistance.
Washington, D.C. – New data from America First Policies, compiled by President Trump’s own pollsters, found lowering the cost of health care to be the top issue voters want addressed in 2018, with these voters favoring fixes to the Affordable Care Act over repeal by a 47 to 34 percent margin. Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement in response:
“When President Trump’s own pollsters find that keeping and fixing the Affordable Care Act has a commanding double-digit advantage over repeal and that rising health care costs are the number-one issue on voters’ minds, it couldn’t be more clear that the Republican war on health care is failing. People across the country want to keep a health care system that stops insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, imposing lifetime caps, or dropping coverage – and despite the rhetoric that Republicans have been pushing for nearly a decade, the law’s popularity only continues to rise.
“The GOP would do well to listen to the President’s own pollsters. No matter who conducts the polling, the results are clear: Americans continue to say they want Congress to lower their premiums and protect the ACA, repeating loudly and clearly: enough is enough – end the war on our health care.”
Washington, D.C. – As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the final open enrollment numbers for 2018, which showed that 11.8 million people nationwide bought Affordable Care Act marketplace coverage, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:
“Millions of Americans rely on the Affordable Care Act for quality, affordable coverage, and today’s confirmed enrollment numbers provide clear evidence of the law’s critical importance in American health care. But for over a year, the Trump Administration has been carrying out an unprecedented sabotage campaign designed to undermine the law and make it fail. Nowhere was this more apparent that the Administration’s attacks on open enrollment, which included cutting the advertising budget by 90 percent, halving the enrollment time, and denying help for people trying to get coverage. But the American people rejected this partisan scaremongering, and now we know that 11.8 million people signed up for marketplace coverage, almost matching last year’s total enrollment despite the many obstacles the Trump Administration placed in their way. While this is heartening news, these 11.8 million people and millions more are living in fear that the Republican war on health care will hike their rates and make care prohibitively expensive or unavailable to people with pre-existing conditions.
“The American people don’t want to go back to a time when insurers could deny them health care for having a pre-existing condition or be priced out of the market based on their age, gender, or medical history. The Affordable Care Act is a lifeline for millions of Americans, and Republicans’ continuing attempts to undermine the law are being met with resistance through enrollment, protests, and at the ballot box as the American continue to say: enough is enough – it’s time for Republicans to end their war on our care.”
Anxiety About Health Care Mounts Due to Destructive Republican Rhetoric
Washington, DC – After new polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation confirmed Americans’ mounting anxiety about Republican health care sabotage, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:
“Despite everything Republicans have thrown at it, the Affordable Care Act still protects every single American with health insurance and connects millions of previously uninsured people with coverage – but you wouldn’t know it listening to Trump and Republicans in Congress. Republicans need to realize that misleading the public, sabotaging the law and spreading fear has real and damaging consequences. Whether you’re a person with a pre-existing condition or the parent of a sick kid, you deserve elected officials who make life easier, not scarier. The constant anxiety Americans now face is yet another hidden cost of Republicans’ relentless repeal-and-sabotage campaign against our health care.”
Key takeaways from the survey:
About half the public overall believes the ACA marketplaces are “collapsing,” including six in ten of those with coverage purchased through these marketplaces. This belief reflects the ongoing uncertainty caused by Republican sabotage and Trump’s divisive rhetoric, but contradicts what the President’s own economic advisors have confirmed about the stability and strength of the individual market.
Because of Republican sabotage, the number of people who are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” that rate hikes will make coverage unaffordable has skyrocketed to 67%, compared with 38% in October 2017.
People are more worried about copays and deductibles – up from 42% to 69%.
People are more worried that insurance companies will stop selling plans – up from 34% to 49%.
People are more worried that there won’t be any plans in their area – up from 33% to 51%.
One-third (34 percent) of shoppers in the individual market say the individual mandate that Republicans repealed was a “major reason” why they chose to buy insurance, and one in ten say they will not buy coverage without it. Research indicates that those most likely to drop coverage are “young invincibles,” who balance the risk pool and act as a downward pressure on premiums. Because of Republicans’ individual mandate repeal, CBO forecasts that average premiums in the nongroup market will increase by 10% in most years of the coming decade.
From:Brad Woodhouse, Protect Our Care Campaign Director
Date: May 3, 2018
Re: Health Care Remains Top Issue Heading Into Midterms
Throughout the Trump presidency, one issue has consistently stood out as the top priority for voters, critical to how Americans will cast their ballots in the midterm elections: health care.
Health care is a top issue in nearly every major issue-ranked poll in 2018;
Voters overwhelmingly trust Democrats over Republicans on health care; and
Voters resoundingly reject President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage campaign against the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.
These polls, conducted by nonpartisan news outlets and by research firms from a wide array of ideological backgrounds, have shown consistent results despite asking differently-framed questions amid a turbulent political landscape. Clearly, health care is a dominant issue that will remain potent through the midterm elections, and the consistent partisan trust divide indicates that it should be a major focus for Democratic candidates in virtually every race in the country.
HEALTH CARE REMAINS A TOP ISSUE FOR AMERICAN VOTERS
Throughout 2018, poll after poll has surveyed which issues are top-of-mind for voters and nearly every time health care has been at the top of the list.
For example, a February CNN poll found that health care was voters’ top priority. Among its findings:
83% of voters said health care was extremely important or very important, the highest among all issues.
53% of voters said health care was extremely important, the highest among all issues – a 20% increase from August of 2010, a year when health care played a major factor in midterm elections.
78% of independent voters said health care was important, tied with the economy as their top issue.
At least 70% of voters in every demographic category said health care was important – a trend that stretches across gender, age, income level, education level, ideology, and party affiliation.
These results were echoed by a March Pew Research Center survey, which found health care is the number-one pocketbook issue for Americans across all income brackets:
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.
An April HuffPost/YouGov poll found that health care was a top issue for voters, with, 28% of those surveyed listing health care as their top the top issue, leaving the Huffington Post to conclude:
“Heading into the midterm elections, American voters are more likely to say they’re focused about health care than any other issue.”
A March Gallup survey asked Americans about the issues they are most worried about and, 78% of those surveyed named health care as a worry, more than any other issue, leading Newsweek to frame its coverage of the poll, “Health Care Is A Bigger Concern Than Terrorism”:
“Americans are more concerned about health care than they are about terrorism, according to a poll released on Monday. The Gallup survey rated health care as the top concern among Americans, with 55 percent of respondents noting they were “a great deal” concerned about the availability and affordability of health care. Twenty-three percent were “a fair amount” concerned about the topic. It is the fifth year running that health care has topped Gallup’s list of concerns for Americans. It’s the 13th time overall that the issue has been a top concern. Democrats were more concerned about health care than Republicans, although 39 percent of Republicans still expressed concerns about the issue.”
A survey leaked in March from America First Policies using President Trump’s own pollsters found that health care was the top issue for voters, with 41% saying lowering health care costs should be Congress’ top priority. On the other side of the spectrum, a February poll from Priorities USA also found that independent voters continue to hold major concerns about President Trump’s war on health care:
“Donald Trump’s policies are adding to the economic burdens of average families by raising the cost of health care and driving up insurance premiums. And Trump has broken his promise to crack down on excessive drug prices. Instead, he has given the big drug companies huge tax breaks while allowing them to charge as much as they want, without any controls or negotiation. 60% of voters have major concerns, including 71% among independents.”
HEALTH CARE IS DRIVING DEMOCRATIC SUPPORT
Health care is not just a top concern for voters – it’s also a deciding factor for voters, and drives widespread support of Democrats.
On March 13, voters in Pennsylvania’s eighteenth district went to the polls and selected Conor Lamb over pro-repeal candidate Rick Saccone in a district which had gone for Donald Trump by nearly twenty points. A telephone exit poll of those who cast ballots found that:
Health care was a top issue for voters, with 52% listing it as important and only 19% deeming it not important. Among voters who said health care was the most important issue, Lamb beat Saccone 64-36, and among 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, 45-38. Among 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.
On April 24, Hiral Tipirneni nearly upset Republican Debbie Lasko in Arizona’s eighth district, a “closer-than-expected” result in a district Donald Trump carried by 21 points. A telephone exit poll of those who cast ballots similarly found that:
Health care was a top issue to voters, and these voters favored Tipirneni. Health care was ranked as a top issue for 58% of voters, with only 17% saying it was not that important or not important at all. Among these voters, Tipirneni beat Lesko 65-33.
On health care, voters said Tipirneni better reflected their views. Overall, voters said Tipirneni better reflected their views by 2 points, 45-43, over Lesko. Among independents, the gap widened to 30 points, 57-27 in favor of saying Tipirneni.
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.
These were not special occurrences, either. A March 21 PPP poll among voters in battleground states found voters supporting pro-health care candidates and rejecting those favoring repeal:
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.
And in November, in what analysts deemed the election most seen as a bellwether for the rest of the country, exit polling from Virginia, where Democrats had their best performance in decades, found health care to be far-and-away the most important issue:
Asked whether health care, immigration, gun policy, taxes, or abortion was the most decisive issue, 39% of voters said health care was the issue which mattered most.
Among those who selected health care, 77% backed Democrat Ralph Northam.
VOTERS REJECT THE REPUBLICAN HEALTH CARE AGENDA
Ultimately, Americans don’t support or trust the GOP when it comes to health care.
A February PPP poll found Americans placing blame for rising health care costs on President Trump’s sabotage of the law. Among its findings:
Over half of voters know Republicans are sabotaging health care, with 51% stating that the Trump administration is actively taking steps that will raise people’s health care costs.
60% of voters want to keep the ACA in place and make fixes as necessary, with just 34% favoring repeal.
This rang true in Pennsylvania’s eighteenth district, with polling showing not just support for Conor Lamb based on his health care stance, but also a rejection of Rick Saccone for his pro-repeal views:
Voters in this heavily-Republican district disapproved of the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act by 14 points, 53% to 39%.
59% of those surveyed said the Affordable Care Act should be kept in place with fixes made to it as necessary, while just 38% of those surveyed said the best path forward on health care was to repeal the ACA.
Among independent voters, the disparity is even wider, with 63% of independent voters opposing the GOP’s health care efforts and just 33% supporting them.
This was also the case in Arizona’s eighth district. Although Tipirneni was not able to pull off the upset, polling showed health care was a boost for her, and once again showed the ACA’s growing popularity:
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.
In fact, even the Trump-backed poll finds that voters don’t trust the GOP’s health care agenda. The America First Policies poll also found:
By 17 points, voters disapprove of Trump’s “handling of health care and health insurance” with only 38% approving (16% strongly) and 55% disapproving (44% strongly).
Among the 41% of voters who say lowering health care costs should be the top priority, 68% want Congress to either leave the Affordable Care Act as it is or work to fix it, with just 31% backing repeal.
And let’s not forget – in direct opposition of the Republican health care agenda, the popularity of the ACA continues to rise:
In the PPP poll, approval for the Affordable Care Act 12 was points above water, 47% approval to 35% disapproval, a dramatic reversal from trends before Trump took office.
In the PA-18 exit polling, a deeply-red district, 44% of voters supported for the ACA while just 42% opposed it.
And in the latest Kaiser tracking poll, 50% of voters expressed their support for the ACA to just 43% who disapproved, reflecting the long-term upward trend of support for the ACA that reached an all-time high in February at 54-42 approve/disapprove.
Ultimately, the message could not be more explicit: voters from all backgrounds and in states across the country are telling the GOP that enough is enough – it’s time for Republicans to end their war on health care and cease their repeal and sabotage agenda. As polls and election results have made clear, if Republicans continue their war on health care and Democrats call them on it, the opposition party will continue to widen its advantage in the midterm elections.
In response to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signing legislation which allows for the sale of association health plans and ‘benefit plans’ which don’t meet Affordable Care Act requirements, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:
“The legislation takes Iowa back to the days when insurance companies could discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and refuse to cover essential health benefits like maternity care and prescription drugs, paving the way for even higher premiums and further market destabilization. This legislation will allow insurance companies to sell junk plans without proper oversight – precisely the kind of abuses the Affordable Care Act was designed to stop.”
Washington Post [4/2/18]: Iowa tries another end run around the Affordable Care Act As a growing number of Republican-led states look for end runs around the Affordable Care Act, Iowa is embracing a strategy that contends not all health plans are actually health insurance. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is scheduled Monday to sign into law a bill allowing the century-old Iowa Farm Bureau to collaborate with the state’s dominant insurer to sell “health benefit plans,” which are expected to cost health customers less than ACA coverage because they will not have to comply with federal requirements.