Monthly Archives

June 2018

Donald Trump Is Responsible for Premium Increases

This afternoon in Nevada, President Trump attempted to blame the rising premiums Americans are seeing due to actions by his Administration on the Affordable Care Act. Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement in response:

“Donald Trump has waged a vengeful campaign which has harmed Americans’ health insurance from the moment he took office. He has supported every health care repeal bill, attempted to tank open enrollment, and introduced alternative junk plans have been projected to increase premiums by as much as twenty percent. As insurance companies announce their proposed rate increases for next year, they are continuously citing actions by the Administration as responsible for the increase. President Trump and Congressional Republicans like Dean Heller should be working on common-sense, bipartisan solutions to lower Americans’ costs rather than lighting the match that starts the fire and then blaming the house for burning down.”

Why Ohioans’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive: The Trump Administration and Washington Republicans Keep Sabotaging Health Care

As preliminary Ohio rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicate another year of premium increases due to Washington Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage agenda, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“For the past year and a half, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have engaged in a deliberate, aggressive campaign to undermine health care and now families in Ohio are being asked to pay the price. While insurance companies make huge profits and enjoy record tax breaks from Republicans, they are planning to charge working families even more. Until we stop Republicans’ war on health care, health care experts predict that rates will keep rising by double digits. Washington Republicans should start working on bipartisan solutions to make coverage more affordable, instead of helping their friends in the insurance industry make another buck on the backs of hardworking Ohioans.”

 

Why Ohioans’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive: The Trump Administration and Washington Republicans Keep Sabotaging Health Care

While spending most of last year trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and waging a war on our health care, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have also used their control of Washington to actively undermine the Health Insurance Marketplaces every chance they get – leading insurance companies to raise premiums for 2018 and 2019 and, in some cases, forcing them out of the individual market altogether. Washington Republicans’ goal is simple: sabotage and undermine the Affordable Care Act, then blame everyone but themselves for the consequences of their actions. President Trump keeps rooting for disaster, saying that “The best thing we can do…is let Obamacare explode” and “Let it be a disaster because we can blame that on the Democrats.

Now, initial rate filings in Ohio forecast rate hikes again this fall because of Republican sabotage.

Republicans never ended their war on our health care. After Congress failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Trump Administration is aggressively sabotaging our health care system and refusing to work to make coverage better and more affordable.

  • Experts from AARP, the Congressional Budget Office, and a wide range of other nonpartisan organizations agree that Republican actions are forcing up health care costs.
  • Republicans in Congress are supporting the Administration’s many actions to undermine health care, despite widespread opposition from patient and disease groups, doctors, nurses, hospitals, plus health care and consumer advocates.
  • The Trump Administration officials keep rewriting the rules to let big insurance companies cover fewer and fewer services while charging people more and more. The sabotage doesn’t stop there: last year the Administration fired many of the community assisters who help people enroll in health care; this year they are planning more enrollment cuts, making it even harder to sign up for coverage.
  • And now, Republicans are encouraging insurance companies to sell more junk plans that don’t have to cover basic care like hospitalization and prescription drugs, and that are allowed to charge people with pre-existing conditions more or even deny them coverage altogether. In Ohio, no short-term plans available have to cover maternity care, and only 30 percent of plans cover prescription drugs.

This could have been avoided: if Republicans had stopped sabotaging health care, American families wouldn’t be facing another huge increase this fall.

  • Even the Trump Administration has admitted that the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces had been stabilizing prior to them coming into office.
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had predicted only modest rate increases if Republicans hadn’t sabotaged the markets.
  • Even Senate Republicans admitted this fall’s upcoming rate hikes were “avoidable,” but then they torched bipartisan stabilization talks at the last minute, prioritizing partisan politics over their last opportunity to help American families afford health care next year.

The Trump Administration’s sabotage will punish Americans by jacking up premiums again, compounding the damage done last year, when Republican sabotage pushed rates up by a national average of 37 percent, and 38 percent in Ohio.

  • The Republican tax bill’s repeal of a key Affordable Care Act provision and the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal will increase individual market premiums in Ohio by an average 16.8 percent this fall, according to a recent Urban Institute study.
  • This sabotage-driven rate hike will make the damage Republicans inflicted last year through repeal attempts and sabotage even worse.
  • Higher premiums will mean fewer working families can afford coverage: during the first year of the Trump Administration, millions more Americans joined the ranks of the uninsured – the highest increase since Gallup started tracking the uninsured rate.

Despite Republican sabotage, the Affordable Care Act has improved Ohioans’ care.

  • 230,127 Ohioans signed up for Marketplace coverage this year.
  • Thanks to the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion, Ohio’s uninsured rate fell by 7.4 percent between 2013 and 2016 as Ohioans have gained access to affordable coverage.
  • Before today’s announcement, the Urban Institute predicted that Ohio premiums for 2019 could rise 16.8 percent more because of the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal and the Republican tax bill’s repeal of a key Affordable Care Act coverage incentive.
  • Even despite sabotage, Affordable Care Act subsidies help keep coverage affordable for 74 percent of Ohio Marketplace consumers, whose average 2018 premium is $143 per month.
  • But because of the Republican sabotage agenda, many middle-income Ohioans could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more than they would have otherwise.

Ohioans won’t forget that Republicans and the Trump Administration keep forcing up health care costs to score political points.

 

  • Health care costs are a top issue in nearly every major issue-ranked poll in 2018.
  • Voters overwhelmingly trust Democrats over Republicans on health care costs.
  • In poll after poll, voters resoundingly reject President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage campaign against the Affordable Care Act.

 

KEY QUOTES

America’s Health Insurance Plans: Administration’s DOJ Decision Would “Cause Rates To Go Even Higher For Older Americans And Sicker Patients.” “Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections, such as guaranteed issue and community rating rules that help those with pre-existing conditions. Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019. Instead, we should focus on advancing proven solutions that ensure affordability for all consumers. [AHIP, 6/8/18]

Associated Press: Administration’s Decision Could “Nudge Premiums Even Higher.” “The Trump administration’s decision to stop defending in court the Obama health law’s popular protections for consumers with pre-existing conditions could prove risky for Republicans in the midterm elections — and nudge premiums even higher.” [CNBC, 6/8/18]

Timothy Jost, Washington & Lee University Law Professor: Administration’s Decision Could Leave Millions Of Americans Facing “Denial Of Coverage Or Higher Premiums.” “Yesterday, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice dropped a bombshell in a rural Texas federal courthouse. The administration stated in a court filing (and also in letters to Congressional leaders) that it would not defend three key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the judge in the case agrees, millions of Americans with preexisting conditions could face denial of coverage or higher premiums.” [Commonwealth Fund, 6/8/18]

Ceci Connolly, Alliance Of Community Health Plans: Administration’s Decision Decision Could Spark Fresh Market Instability. “Ceci Connolly, president of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, called the legal position ‘troubling’ and warned it could spark fresh market instability. ‘At the very least it adds uncertainty at exactly the moment when plans are trying to set rates for next year,’ Connolly said in a statement. ‘At the worst, it could strip away guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. We don’t want to return to the days when people who needed the care the most could be turned away because of their health status.’” [Modern Healthcare, 6/8/18]

Fortune: If Administration’s Decision Is Implemented, “There’s A Strong Change Insurers Would Begin Charging Sicker People Significantly More.” “To date, many low-income people have been shielded from those increases since federal subsidies to help pay premiums rise in tandem with the spikes. Middle-class families who don’t qualify for the subsidies are left either swallowing the higher premiums or forgoing coverage. If the protections for people with pre-existing conditions are ultimately shot down, there’s a strong chance insurers would begin charging sicker people significantly more for their coverage while younger and healthier Americans would see lower prices.” [Fortune, 6/11/18]

America’s Health Insurance Plans: Administration’s DOJ Decision Would “Cause Rates To Go Even Higher For Older Americans And Sicker Patients.” “Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections, such as guaranteed issue and community rating rules that help those with pre-existing conditions. Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019. Instead, we should focus on advancing proven solutions that ensure affordability for all consumers. [AHIP, 6/8/18]

Associated Press: Administration’s Decision Could “Nudge Premiums Even Higher.” “The Trump administration’s decision to stop defending in court the Obama health law’s popular protections for consumers with pre-existing conditions could prove risky for Republicans in the midterm elections — and nudge premiums even higher.” [CNBC, 6/8/18]

Timothy Jost, Washington & Lee University Law Professor: Administration’s Decision Could Leave Millions Of Americans Facing “Denial Of Coverage Or Higher Premiums.” “Yesterday, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice dropped a bombshell in a rural Texas federal courthouse. The administration stated in a court filing (and also in letters to Congressional leaders) that it would not defend three key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the judge in the case agrees, millions of Americans with preexisting conditions could face denial of coverage or higher premiums.” [Commonwealth Fund, 6/8/18]

Ceci Connolly, Alliance Of Community Health Plans: Administration’s Decision Decision Could Spark Fresh Market Instability. “Ceci Connolly, president of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, called the legal position ‘troubling’ and warned it could spark fresh market instability. ‘At the very least it adds uncertainty at exactly the moment when plans are trying to set rates for next year,’ Connolly said in a statement. ‘At the worst, it could strip away guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. We don’t want to return to the days when people who needed the care the most could be turned away because of their health status.’” [Modern Healthcare, 6/8/18]

Fortune: If Administration’s Decision Is Implemented, “There’s A Strong Change Insurers Would Begin Charging Sicker People Significantly More.” “To date, many low-income people have been shielded from those increases since federal subsidies to help pay premiums rise in tandem with the spikes. Middle-class families who don’t qualify for the subsidies are left either swallowing the higher premiums or forgoing coverage. If the protections for people with pre-existing conditions are ultimately shot down, there’s a strong chance insurers would begin charging sicker people significantly more for their coverage while younger and healthier Americans would see lower prices.” [Fortune, 6/11/18]

Former HHS Secretary Tom Price: GOP Actions Responsible For Premium Increases. “President Trump’s former top health official on Tuesday said the Republican tax law would raise the cost of health insurance for some Americans because it repealed a core provision of the Affordable Care Act. Tom Price, Trump’s first secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said people buying insurance on government-run marketplaces will face higher prices because the tax law repealed the ACA’s individual mandate. The mandate had forced most Americans to have health coverage or face a financial penalty. ‘There are many, and I’m one of them, who believes that that actually will harm the pool in the exchange market, because you’ll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently that drives up the cost for other folks within that market,’ Price said at the World Health Care Conference in Washington.” [Washington Post, 5/1/18]

America’s Health Insurance Plans: Republican Sabotage Will “Drive Up The Rate Of Premium Increases.” “Policies that disproportionately draw healthy consumers away from the individual market, like expanding access to short-term plans, will likely have an even more devastating effect on affordability, choice and competition. This will further result in adverse selection, drive up the rate of premium increases, and exacerbate affordability issues for many other people.” [America’s Health Insurance Plans Letter to HHS, 4/20/18]

Cynthia Cox, Kaiser Family Foundation: “In The Absence Of Efforts To Undermine The Market, We Would Be Seeing A Period Of Relatively Small Premium Increases.” “‘In the absence of efforts to undermine the market, we would be seeing a period of relatively small premium increases, driven mostly by the underlying growth in health care costs,’ said Cynthia Cox, the lead author of the Kaiser Family Foundation report. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re in for another year of double-digit premium increases. And if that does happen, it would be in large part due to policy changes that are happening.’” [Huffington Post, 5/18/18]

Kris Haltmeyer, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Vice President: “With The Repeal Of The Individual Mandate And The Failure Of Congress To Enact Stabilization Legislation, We Are Expecting Premiums To Go Up Substantially.” Kris Haltmeyer, a vice president at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, told reporters that the premium increases were in part due to the repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the Republican tax reform bill in December. He also cited lawmakers’ failure to pass a bill aimed at shoring up the market, which fell apart earlier this year amid a partisan dispute over abortion restrictions. ‘With the repeal of the individual mandate and the failure of Congress to enact stabilization legislation, we are expecting premiums to go up substantially,’ Haltmeyer said. He estimated that average premium increases nationwide will be in the ‘low teens,’ but that there will be major variation across areas, ranging from the low single digits to up to 70 or 80 percent.” [The Hill, 5/23]

New York Times Editorial Board: “The Administration’s Health Care Sabotage Efforts Have Already Had A Big Impact”: A 30-Percent Premium Increase. “The administration’s health care sabotage efforts have already had a big impact — but not the kind of impact officials promised. Insurance companies raised average premiums for 2018 A.C.A. policies by 30 percent. This has mostly hurt middle-class families who have to pay full freight for health insurance because they make too much money to qualify for subsidies and don’t get coverage through their employer. Few experts were surprised when the Commonwealth Fund found that the percentage of American adults who did not have health insurance jumped to 15.5 percent this year, from 12.7 percent before Mr. Trump took office. Experts say those numbers could climb higher still when the penalty for not having insurance goes away next year.” [NYT, 5/3/18]

Commonwealth Fund: Rollback Of Health Insurance Gains Spurred By “Actions By The Current Administration.” “The marked gains in health insurance coverage made since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 are beginning to reverse, according to new findings from the latest Commonwealth Fund ACA Tracking Survey. The coverage declines are likely the result of two major factors: 1) lack of federal legislative actions to improve specific weaknesses in the ACA and 2) actions by the current administration that have exacerbated those weaknesses. These include the administration’s deep cuts in advertising and outreach during the marketplace open-enrollment periods, a shorter open enrollment period, and other actions that collectively may have left people with a general sense of confusion about the status of the law. Signs point to further erosion of insurance coverage in 2019: the repeal of the individual mandate penalty included in the 2017 tax law, recent actions to increase the availability of insurance policies that don’t comply with ACA minimum benefit standards, and support for Medicaid work requirements.” [Commonwealth Fund, 5/1/18]

Center For American Progress: “Combined, The Recent Tax Law’s Repeal Of The Individual Mandate And The Administration’s Short-Term Plan Rule Will Undermine The Individual Insurance Market And Increase Premiums For ACA-Compliant Coverage.” “Last year, as part of the tax law, Congress eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty. Given the mandate’s important role in encouraging healthier people to enroll in the marketplaces, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that, in 2019, this will increase average premiums in the individual market by 10 percent. Furthermore, in February 2018, the Trump administration proposed a rule to expand short-term health insurance plans… Along with the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, this expansion of short-term plans will drive up average premiums for ACA-compliant coverage in the individual market. Recent preliminary rate filings in Virginia demonstrate that these actions are contributing to significant premium increases for marketplace coverage in 2019. In fact, some Virginia insurers specifically cited the individual mandate repeal and short-term plan rule as major factors in their rate filings… Combined, the recent tax law’s repeal of the individual mandate and the administration’s short-term plan rule will undermine the individual insurance market and increase premiums for ACA-compliant coverage.” [CAP, 5/18]

New York Times: “Rather Than Trying To Eliminate Obamacare In One Fell Swoop, [Republicans Are] Trying To Undermine It With Multiple Acts Of Sabotage – While Hoping Voters Won’t Realize Who’s Responsible For Rising Premiums And Falling Coverage.” “At the beginning of 2017, Republicans promised to release the kraken on Obamacare — to destroy the program with one devastating blow. But a funny thing happened: Voters realized that repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean taking health insurance away from tens of millions of Americans. They didn’t like that prospect — and enough Republicans balked at the backlash that Obamacare repeal fizzled. But Republicans still hate the idea of helping Americans get health care. So instead of releasing the kraken, they’ve brought on the termites. Rather than trying to eliminate Obamacare in one fell swoop, they’re trying to undermine it with multiple acts of sabotage — while hoping voters won’t realize who’s responsible for rising premiums and falling coverage.” [NYT, 5/8/18]

Washington Post Editorial Board: “The Numbers Suggest That [The ACA’s] Critics’ Sabotage Efforts Are To Blame. “The effects of the president’s underinformed instincts, enabled by the ideologues in his administration, are beginning to show up in some of the numbers, representing real pain that Americans are suffering for Mr. Trump’s deficient leadership… Obamacare critics regularly describe all problems as the inevitable result of a poorly designed law. But the numbers suggest that the critics’ sabotage efforts are to blame. After impressive declines during President Barack Obama’s second term, the fund found that the uninsured rate increased in both of the years Mr. Trump has been in office. During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly complained that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) left too many Americans uncovered. The result of nearly a year and a half of Mr. Trump’s leadership is 4 million people added to that group.” [Washington Post, 5/8/18]

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey: 2018 Premium Increase Was Due To Federal Policy.Three factors connected to federal policy decisions are responsible for 14.7% of the 24.3% total average individual premium increase: Weakened enforcement of the Individual Mandate…Elimination of federal funding for Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR), [and] 2018 reinstatement of Health Insurance Tax…Were it not for the three factors within the control of the Federal Government, Horizon BCBSNJ’s individual premiums would have an average increase of 9.6%.” [Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, 10/17/17]

CEO of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield: Things Are “Materially Worse” Under Trump. “Continuing actions on the part of the administration to systematically undermine the market and make it almost impossible to carry out the mission…If continued efforts at the federal level undermine the marketplaces, I would think the board would have to examine what they would want — that’s very much on their mind.” [Washington Post, 5/1/18]

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: “We, The Republican Party…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. [Hart Research, 9/5/17]

Protect Our Care Kicks Off 130 Million Strong Month of Action

This week, as Republicans tripled down on their repeal-and-sabotage campaign against Americans’ health care, advocates in cities and towns across the country were fighting back. On the same day that the House GOP released a budget which would pave the way for the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act and massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, the Trump Administration finalized a rule on junk association health plans (AHPs) which was opposed by 95% of health care experts. The next day, Govs. Matt Bevin (R-KY) and Phil Bryant (R-MS) joined former senator Rick Santorum to announce the latest iteration of repeal legislation, which would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, impose an age tax on older Americans, and end Medicaid expansion. And all the while, the Trump Administration continued its Department of Justice’s attack on protections for 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Health care advocates weren’t intimidated, though, continuing to fight tooth-and-nail from coast to coast:

ALASKA

In Alaska, Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development Mike Navarre, Dr. Jay Butler, Chief Medical Officer for the State of Alaska, Dr. Alan Gross, and Alaskans who will be deeply impacted if these protections are repealed gathered to speak about what changes to pre-existing conditions protections could mean for Alaskans.

ARIZONA

In Arizona, patients and advocates including Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, State Rep. Kelli Butler, and parents whose children have pre-existing conditions gathered in front of the State Capitol to discuss the importance of pre-existing condition protections.

MAINE

In Maine, health care advocates from Maine Equal Justice Partners, Planned Parenthood, and Consumers for Affordable Healthcare held a press conference to shine a light on the Trump DOJ’s new attack on protections for Mainers with pre-existing conditions.

NEVADA

In Nevada, health care advocates gathered outside the First Med Health and Wellness Center in Las Vegas, with speakers including Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, Andres Ramirez of the Alliance for Healthcare Security, and Allison Stephens, whose child has juvenile arthritis.

OHIO

In Ohio, the Moms Clean Air Force and Valley Voices United for Change joined local advocates for a press conference in Youngstown discussing Washington Republicans’ recent attacks on protections for pre-existing conditions.

PENNSYLVANIA

In Pennsylvania, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania’s Lisa Frank joined Joe Defazio and Jill Helbling, Pennsylvians impacted by pre-existing conditions, at an event in Pittsburgh.

TENNESSEE

In Tennessee, health care advocates held a press conference to discuss the GOP’s war on health care, including its effects on rising premiums and recent attacks on pre-existing conditions. A mother of kids with pre-existing conditions, an economics professor, and a young progressional with a pre-existing condition joined the discussion.

WEST VIRGINIA

In West Virginia, health care advocates, with pre-existing conditions visited Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office to discuss their concerns about his actions to weaken access to care for West Virginians with pre-existing conditions, including the 20-state lawsuit he recently signed onto to that attacks pre-existing conditions protections. Activities also gathered for a rally to ask Rep. Alex Mooney why he voted to take away health care and increase costs for West Virginians, especially those who have pre-existing conditions. Rep. Mooney was a no-show.

WASHINGTON, D.C.


And in Washington, D.C., as Governors. Matt Bevin (R-KY) and Phil Bryant (R-MS) and former senator Rick Santorum announced the latest iteration of the GOP’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act at the Hoover Institution, they were greeted by chants of “Shame! Shame!” from gathered health care advocates.

This Week in the War on Health Care

While immigration dominated the headlines, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened this week in the war on health care – including bipartisan governors and health care advocates loudly standing up to the GOP’s latest actions:

HEALTH CARE REPEAL IS BACK!

Yesterday, Govs. Matt Bevin (R-KY) and Phil Bryant (R-MS) joined with former senator Rick Santorum to announce the latest iteration of the GOP’s health care repeal plan. And no matter how Washington Republicans will try to spin it, it contains the same devastating provisions as previous plans. Among other things, this repeal plan would:

  • Gut protections for pre-existing conditions, forcing people to choose between bankruptcy and staying alive;
  • Let insurance companies charge older people an age tax;
  • Let insurance companies could deny coverage for ‘essential health benefits,’ such as maternity care, prescription drug coverage, and treatment for substance use disorders;
  • End Medicaid expansion;
  • Take away coverage from millions, driving up the uninsured rate; and
  • Give the wealthiest yet another tax break while ending tax credits for while middle-income Americans.

What are Bevin, Bryant, and Santorum’s health records?

  • Matt Bevin has threatened to take health care from 500,000 Kentuckians if courts strike down his work requirements.
  • Phil Bryant opposed expanding Medicaid because recipients go to the doctor too often because they have “nothing else to do.”
  • Rick Santorum compared the ACA to apartheid.

How were Bevin, Bryant, and Santorum greeted when they announced the new plan?

HEALTH CARE ADVOCATES OUT IN FULL FORCE AGAINST GOP REPEAL PLAN

As Govs. Bevin and Bryant and former senator Santorum announced the latest iteration of the GOP’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act at the Hoover Institution, they were greeted by health care advocates demanding they stop their attacks on Americans’ care.

Protesters demonstrating their support for health care access.

Exclusive footage of a man who wants to take away Americans’ health care.

Enough is enough – stop the GOP war on health care.

HOUSE GOP BUDGET PROPOSAL LATEST ATTACK ON AMERICANS’ CARE

On Tuesday, House Republicans released a budget resolution containing massive health care cuts and paving the way for full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The budget came just one day before the six-month anniversary of Congressional Republicans’ trillion-dollar tax scam, when the GOP voted to take health care away from millions of Americans and raise costs on tens of millions more in order to cut taxes for the wealthiest and corporations – but apparently this wasn’t enough.

This budget would pave the way for repealing the Affordable Care Act, slash Medicare and Medicaid, and drastically cut other health programs when what Americans need is relief from the onslaught of GOP health care sabotage. Enough is enough – it’s time for Republicans to end their war on health care.

IGNORING 95% OF HEALTH CARE GROUPS, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FINALIZES AHP RULE

Also on Tuesday, the Trump Administration announced a finalized rule on association health plans (AHPs), which over 95% 95% of health care experts and advocates opposed. AHPs fail to provide real coverage because they can refuse to cover critical consumer protections like prescription drug coverage, mental health care, and maternity care, and studies show that these types of plans have a long history of fraud and unpaid claims. These garbage health plans are just the latest Trump Administration attempt to undermine and sabotage our health insurance.

  • Not A Single Group Representing Patients, Physicians, Nurses Or Hospitals Voiced Support In The Public Comments. “Altogether, more than 95% — or 266 of 279 — of the healthcare groups that filed comments about the proposed association health plan regulation expressed serious concern or opposed it.” [LA Times, 5/30]

BIPARTISAN GOVERNORS SLAM ADMINISTRATION OVER PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

It wasn’t just patients, physicians, nurses, and hospitals who opposed the plan, however. This week, nine bipartisan governors released a statement slamming the Trump Administration’s decision to argue that protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional. The nine governors – including Republican Govs. Brian Sandoval, John Kasich and Larry Hogan, and Independent Bill Walker – all recognize the importance of protecting the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and the cruelty of the Administration’s recent actions.

These nine bipartisan governors are showing what true leadership looks like – the Administration would do well to follow their lead and reverse their current position.

Why Hoosiers’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive: The Trump Administration and Washington Republicans Keep Sabotaging Health Care

Washington, D.C. – As preliminary Indiana rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicated another round of premium increases due to Washington Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage agenda, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“For the past year and a half, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have engaged in a deliberate, aggressive campaign to undermine health care and now families in Indiana are being asked to pay the price. Until we stop Washington Republicans’ attacks on health care, experts predict that rates will keep rising by double digits. Washington Republicans should start working on bipartisan solutions to make coverage more affordable, instead of helping their friends in the insurance industry make another buck on the backs of hardworking Hoosiers.”

Why Hoosiers’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive: The Trump Administration and Washington Republicans Keep Sabotaging Health Care

While spending most of last year trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and waging a war on our health care, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have also used their control of Washington to actively undermine the Health Insurance Marketplaces every chance they get – leading insurance companies to raise premiums for 2018 and 2019 and, in some cases, forcing them out of the individual market altogether. Washington Republicans’ goal is simple: sabotage and undermine the Affordable Care Act, then blame everyone but themselves for the consequences of their actions. President Trump keeps rooting for disaster, saying that “The best thing we can do…is let Obamacare explode” and “Let it be a disaster because we can blame that on the Democrats.

Now, initial rate filings in Indiana forecast rate hikes again this fall because of Republican sabotage.

Republicans never ended their war on our health care. After Congress failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Trump Administration is aggressively sabotaging our health care system and refusing to work to make coverage better and more affordable.

  • Experts from AARP, the Congressional Budget Office, and a wide range of other nonpartisan organizations agree that Republican actions are forcing up health care costs.
  • Republicans in Congress are supporting the Administration’s many actions to undermine health care, despite widespread opposition from patient and disease groups, doctors, nurses, hospitals, plus health care and consumer advocates.
  • The Trump Administration officials keep rewriting the rules to let big insurance companies cover fewer and fewer services while charging people more and more. The sabotage doesn’t stop there: last year the Administration fired many of the community assisters who help people enroll in health care; this year they are planning more enrollment cuts, making it even harder to sign up for coverage.
  • And now, Republicans are encouraging insurance companies to sell more junk plans that don’t have to cover basic care like hospitalization and prescription drugs, and that are allowed to charge people with pre-existing conditions more or even deny them coverage altogether. In Indiana, no short-term plans available have to cover maternity care, and only 37 percent of plans cover prescription drugs.

The Trump Administration’s sabotage will punish Americans by jacking up premiums again, compounding the damage done last year, when Republican sabotage pushed rates up by a national average of 37 percent, and 26 percent in Indiana.

  • The Republican tax bill’s repeal of a key Affordable Care Act provision and the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal will increase individual market premiums in Indiana by an average 19.6 percent this fall, according to a recent Urban Institute study.
  • This sabotage-driven rate hike will make the damage Republicans inflicted last year through repeal attempts and sabotage even worse.
  • Higher premiums will mean fewer working families can afford coverage: during the first year of the Trump Administration, millions more Americans joined the ranks of the uninsured – the highest increase since Gallup started tracking the uninsured rate.

This could have been avoided: if Republicans had stopped sabotaging health care, American families wouldn’t be facing another huge increase this fall.

  • Even the Trump Administration has admitted that the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces had been stabilizing prior to them coming into office.
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had predicted only modest rate increases if Republicans hadn’t sabotaged the markets.
  • Even Senate Republicans admitted this fall’s upcoming rate hikes were “avoidable,” but then they torched bipartisan stabilization talks at the last minute, prioritizing partisan politics over their last opportunity to help American families afford health care next year.

Despite Republican sabotage, the Affordable Care Act has improved Hoosiers’ care.

  • 166,711 Hoosiers signed up for Marketplace coverage this year.
  • Thanks to the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion, Indiana’s uninsured rate fell by 7 percent between 2013 and 2016 as Hoosiers have gained access to affordable coverage.
  • Before today’s announcement, the Urban Institute predicted that Indiana premiums for 2019 could rise 19.6 percent more because of the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal and the Republican tax bill’s repeal of a key Affordable Care Act coverage incentive.
  • Even despite sabotage, Affordable Care Act subsidies help keep coverage affordable for 68 percent of Indiana Marketplace consumers, whose average 2018 premium is $155 per month.
  • But because of the Republican sabotage agenda, many middle-income Hoosiers could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more than they would have otherwise.

Hoosiers won’t forget that Republicans and the Trump Administration keep forcing up health care costs to score political points.

 

  • Health care costs are a top issue in nearly every major issue-ranked poll in 2018.
  • Voters overwhelmingly trust Democrats over Republicans on health care costs.
  • In poll after poll, voters resoundingly reject President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage campaign against the Affordable Care Act.

 

 

KEY QUOTES

America’s Health Insurance Plans: Administration’s DOJ Decision Would “Cause Rates To Go Even Higher For Older Americans And Sicker Patients.” “Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections, such as guaranteed issue and community rating rules that help those with pre-existing conditions. Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019. Instead, we should focus on advancing proven solutions that ensure affordability for all consumers. [AHIP, 6/8/18]

Associated Press: Administration’s Decision Could “Nudge Premiums Even Higher.” “The Trump administration’s decision to stop defending in court the Obama health law’s popular protections for consumers with pre-existing conditions could prove risky for Republicans in the midterm elections — and nudge premiums even higher.” [CNBC, 6/8/18]

Timothy Jost, Washington & Lee University Law Professor: Administration’s Decision Could Leave Millions Of Americans Facing “Denial Of Coverage Or Higher Premiums.” “Yesterday, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice dropped a bombshell in a rural Texas federal courthouse. The administration stated in a court filing (and also in letters to Congressional leaders) that it would not defend three key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the judge in the case agrees, millions of Americans with preexisting conditions could face denial of coverage or higher premiums.” [Commonwealth Fund, 6/8/18]

Ceci Connolly, Alliance Of Community Health Plans: Administration’s Decision Decision Could Spark Fresh Market Instability. “Ceci Connolly, president of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, called the legal position ‘troubling’ and warned it could spark fresh market instability. ‘At the very least it adds uncertainty at exactly the moment when plans are trying to set rates for next year,’ Connolly said in a statement. ‘At the worst, it could strip away guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. We don’t want to return to the days when people who needed the care the most could be turned away because of their health status.’” [Modern Healthcare, 6/8/18]

Fortune: If Administration’s Decision Is Implemented, “There’s A Strong Change Insurers Would Begin Charging Sicker People Significantly More.” “To date, many low-income people have been shielded from those increases since federal subsidies to help pay premiums rise in tandem with the spikes. Middle-class families who don’t qualify for the subsidies are left either swallowing the higher premiums or forgoing coverage. If the protections for people with pre-existing conditions are ultimately shot down, there’s a strong chance insurers would begin charging sicker people significantly more for their coverage while younger and healthier Americans would see lower prices.” [Fortune, 6/11/18]

Former HHS Secretary Tom Price: GOP Actions Responsible For Premium Increases. “President Trump’s former top health official on Tuesday said the Republican tax law would raise the cost of health insurance for some Americans because it repealed a core provision of the Affordable Care Act. Tom Price, Trump’s first secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said people buying insurance on government-run marketplaces will face higher prices because the tax law repealed the ACA’s individual mandate. The mandate had forced most Americans to have health coverage or face a financial penalty. ‘There are many, and I’m one of them, who believes that that actually will harm the pool in the exchange market, because you’ll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently that drives up the cost for other folks within that market,’ Price said at the World Health Care Conference in Washington.” [Washington Post, 5/1/18]

America’s Health Insurance Plans: Republican Sabotage Will “Drive Up The Rate Of Premium Increases.” “Policies that disproportionately draw healthy consumers away from the individual market, like expanding access to short-term plans, will likely have an even more devastating effect on affordability, choice and competition. This will further result in adverse selection, drive up the rate of premium increases, and exacerbate affordability issues for many other people.” [America’s Health Insurance Plans Letter to HHS, 4/20/18]

Cynthia Cox, Kaiser Family Foundation: “In The Absence Of Efforts To Undermine The Market, We Would Be Seeing A Period Of Relatively Small Premium Increases.” “‘In the absence of efforts to undermine the market, we would be seeing a period of relatively small premium increases, driven mostly by the underlying growth in health care costs,’ said Cynthia Cox, the lead author of the Kaiser Family Foundation report. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re in for another year of double-digit premium increases. And if that does happen, it would be in large part due to policy changes that are happening.’” [Huffington Post, 5/18/18]

Kris Haltmeyer, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Vice President: “With The Repeal Of The Individual Mandate And The Failure Of Congress To Enact Stabilization Legislation, We Are Expecting Premiums To Go Up Substantially.” Kris Haltmeyer, a vice president at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, told reporters that the premium increases were in part due to the repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the Republican tax reform bill in December. He also cited lawmakers’ failure to pass a bill aimed at shoring up the market, which fell apart earlier this year amid a partisan dispute over abortion restrictions. ‘With the repeal of the individual mandate and the failure of Congress to enact stabilization legislation, we are expecting premiums to go up substantially,’ Haltmeyer said. He estimated that average premium increases nationwide will be in the ‘low teens,’ but that there will be major variation across areas, ranging from the low single digits to up to 70 or 80 percent.” [The Hill, 5/23]

New York Times Editorial Board: “The Administration’s Health Care Sabotage Efforts Have Already Had A Big Impact”: A 30-Percent Premium Increase. “The administration’s health care sabotage efforts have already had a big impact — but not the kind of impact officials promised. Insurance companies raised average premiums for 2018 A.C.A. policies by 30 percent. This has mostly hurt middle-class families who have to pay full freight for health insurance because they make too much money to qualify for subsidies and don’t get coverage through their employer. Few experts were surprised when the Commonwealth Fund found that the percentage of American adults who did not have health insurance jumped to 15.5 percent this year, from 12.7 percent before Mr. Trump took office. Experts say those numbers could climb higher still when the penalty for not having insurance goes away next year.” [NYT, 5/3/18]

Commonwealth Fund: Rollback Of Health Insurance Gains Spurred By “Actions By The Current Administration.” “The marked gains in health insurance coverage made since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 are beginning to reverse, according to new findings from the latest Commonwealth Fund ACA Tracking Survey. The coverage declines are likely the result of two major factors: 1) lack of federal legislative actions to improve specific weaknesses in the ACA and 2) actions by the current administration that have exacerbated those weaknesses. These include the administration’s deep cuts in advertising and outreach during the marketplace open-enrollment periods, a shorter open enrollment period, and other actions that collectively may have left people with a general sense of confusion about the status of the law. Signs point to further erosion of insurance coverage in 2019: the repeal of the individual mandate penalty included in the 2017 tax law, recent actions to increase the availability of insurance policies that don’t comply with ACA minimum benefit standards, and support for Medicaid work requirements.” [Commonwealth Fund, 5/1/18]

Center For American Progress: “Combined, The Recent Tax Law’s Repeal Of The Individual Mandate And The Administration’s Short-Term Plan Rule Will Undermine The Individual Insurance Market And Increase Premiums For ACA-Compliant Coverage.” “Last year, as part of the tax law, Congress eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty. Given the mandate’s important role in encouraging healthier people to enroll in the marketplaces, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that, in 2019, this will increase average premiums in the individual market by 10 percent. Furthermore, in February 2018, the Trump administration proposed a rule to expand short-term health insurance plans… Along with the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, this expansion of short-term plans will drive up average premiums for ACA-compliant coverage in the individual market. Recent preliminary rate filings in Virginia demonstrate that these actions are contributing to significant premium increases for marketplace coverage in 2019. In fact, some Virginia insurers specifically cited the individual mandate repeal and short-term plan rule as major factors in their rate filings… Combined, the recent tax law’s repeal of the individual mandate and the administration’s short-term plan rule will undermine the individual insurance market and increase premiums for ACA-compliant coverage.” [CAP, 5/18]

New York Times: “Rather Than Trying To Eliminate Obamacare In One Fell Swoop, [Republicans Are] Trying To Undermine It With Multiple Acts Of Sabotage – While Hoping Voters Won’t Realize Who’s Responsible For Rising Premiums And Falling Coverage.” “At the beginning of 2017, Republicans promised to release the kraken on Obamacare — to destroy the program with one devastating blow. But a funny thing happened: Voters realized that repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean taking health insurance away from tens of millions of Americans. They didn’t like that prospect — and enough Republicans balked at the backlash that Obamacare repeal fizzled. But Republicans still hate the idea of helping Americans get health care. So instead of releasing the kraken, they’ve brought on the termites. Rather than trying to eliminate Obamacare in one fell swoop, they’re trying to undermine it with multiple acts of sabotage — while hoping voters won’t realize who’s responsible for rising premiums and falling coverage.” [NYT, 5/8/18]

Washington Post Editorial Board: “The Numbers Suggest That [The ACA’s] Critics’ Sabotage Efforts Are To Blame. “The effects of the president’s underinformed instincts, enabled by the ideologues in his administration, are beginning to show up in some of the numbers, representing real pain that Americans are suffering for Mr. Trump’s deficient leadership… Obamacare critics regularly describe all problems as the inevitable result of a poorly designed law. But the numbers suggest that the critics’ sabotage efforts are to blame. After impressive declines during President Barack Obama’s second term, the fund found that the uninsured rate increased in both of the years Mr. Trump has been in office. During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly complained that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) left too many Americans uncovered. The result of nearly a year and a half of Mr. Trump’s leadership is 4 million people added to that group.” [Washington Post, 5/8/18]

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey: 2018 Premium Increase Was Due To Federal Policy.Three factors connected to federal policy decisions are responsible for 14.7% of the 24.3% total average individual premium increase: Weakened enforcement of the Individual Mandate…Elimination of federal funding for Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR), [and] 2018 reinstatement of Health Insurance Tax…Were it not for the three factors within the control of the Federal Government, Horizon BCBSNJ’s individual premiums would have an average increase of 9.6%.” [Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, 10/17/17]

CEO of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield: Things Are “Materially Worse” Under Trump. “Continuing actions on the part of the administration to systematically undermine the market and make it almost impossible to carry out the mission…If continued efforts at the federal level undermine the marketplaces, I would think the board would have to examine what they would want — that’s very much on their mind.” [Washington Post, 5/1/18]

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: “We, The Republican Party…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. [Hart Research, 9/5/17]

Why Iowans’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive: The Trump Administration and Washington Republicans Keep Sabotaging Health Care

Washington, D.C. – As preliminary Iowa rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicated  premium increases due to Washington Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage agenda, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“For the past year and a half, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have engaged in a deliberate, aggressive campaign to undermine health care and now families in Iowa are being asked to pay the price. While insurance companies make huge profits and enjoy record tax breaks from Republicans, they are planning to charge working families even more. Until we stop Republicans’ war on health care, health care experts predict that rates will keep rising by double digits. Washington Republicans should start working on bipartisan solutions to make coverage more affordable, instead of helping their friends in the insurance industry make another buck on the backs of hardworking Iowans.”

From the Insurance Company:

Medica: Rates Increasing Due To Health Individuals Leaving The Marketplace. “Medica Vice President Geoff Bartsh said the pool of Iowans buying individual insurance policies continues to shrink, as relatively healthy people leave and sicker people stay. That means his company still faces uncertain risks in offering coverage here.” [Des Moines Register, 6/21]

Why Iowans’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive: The Trump Administration and Washington Republicans Keep Sabotaging Health Care

While spending most of last year trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and waging a war on our health care, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have also used their control of Washington to actively undermine the Health Insurance Marketplaces every chance they get – leading insurance companies to raise premiums for 2018 and 2019 and, in some cases, forcing them out of the individual market altogether. Washington Republicans’ goal is simple: sabotage and undermine the Affordable Care Act, then blame everyone but themselves for the consequences of their actions. President Trump keeps rooting for disaster, saying that “The best thing we can do…is let Obamacare explode” and “Let it be a disaster because we can blame that on the Democrats.

Now, initial rate filings in Iowa forecast rate hikes again this fall because of Republican sabotage.

Republicans never ended their war on our health care. After Congress failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Trump Administration is aggressively sabotaging our health care system and refusing to work to make coverage better and more affordable.

  • Experts from AARP, the Congressional Budget Office, and a wide range of other nonpartisan organizations agree that Republican actions are forcing up health care costs.
  • Republicans in Congress are supporting the Administration’s many actions to undermine health care, despite widespread opposition from patient and disease groups, doctors, nurses, hospitals, plus health care and consumer advocates.
  • The Trump Administration officials keep rewriting the rules to let big insurance companies cover fewer and fewer services while charging people more and more. The sabotage doesn’t stop there: last year the Administration fired many of the community assisters who help people enroll in health care; this year they are planning more enrollment cuts, making it even harder to sign up for coverage.
  • And now, Republicans are encouraging insurance companies to sell more junk plans that don’t have to cover basic care like hospitalization and prescription drugs, and that are allowed to charge people with pre-existing conditions more or even deny them coverage altogether. In Iowa, no short-term plans available cover maternity care, and only 33 percent of plans cover prescription drugs.

This could have been avoided: if Republicans had stopped sabotaging health care, American families wouldn’t be facing another huge increase this fall.

  • Even the Trump Administration has admitted that the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces had been stabilizing prior to them coming into office.
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had predicted only modest rate increases if Republicans hadn’t sabotaged the markets.
  • Even Senate Republicans admitted this fall’s upcoming rate hikes were “avoidable,” but then they torched bipartisan stabilization talks at the last minute, prioritizing partisan politics over their last opportunity to help American families afford health care next year.

The Trump Administration’s sabotage will punish Americans by jacking up premiums again, compounding the damage done last year, when Republican sabotage pushed rates up by a national average of 37 percent, and 88 percent in Iowa.

  • The Republican tax bill’s repeal of a key Affordable Care Act provision and the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal will increase individual market premiums in Iowa by an average 15.8 percent this fall, according to a recent Urban Institute study.
  • This sabotage-driven rate hike will make the damage Republicans inflicted last year through repeal attempts and sabotage even worse.
  • Higher premiums will mean fewer working families can afford coverage: during the first year of the Trump Administration, millions more Americans joined the ranks of the uninsured – the highest increase since Gallup started tracking the uninsured rate.

Despite Republican sabotage, the Affordable Care Act has improved Iowans’ care.

  • 53,217 Iowans signed up for Marketplace coverage this year.
  • Thanks to the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion, Iowa’s uninsured rate fell by 3.3 percent between 2013 and 2016 as Iowans have gained access to affordable coverage.
  • Before today’s announcement, the Urban Institute predicted that Iowa premiums for 2019 could rise 15.8 percent more because of the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal and the Republican tax bill’s repeal of a key Affordable Care Act coverage incentive.
  • Even despite sabotage, Affordable Care Act subsidies help keep coverage affordable for 85 percent of Iowa Marketplace consumers, whose average 2018 premium is $122 per month.
  • But because of the Republican sabotage agenda, many middle-income Iowans could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more than they would have otherwise.

Iowans won’t forget that Republicans and the Trump Administration keep forcing up health care costs to score political points.

  • Health care costs are a top issue in nearly every major issue-ranked poll in 2018.
  • Voters overwhelmingly trust Democrats over Republicans on health care costs.
  • In poll after poll, voters resoundingly reject President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage campaign against the Affordable Care Act.

KEY QUOTES

America’s Health Insurance Plans: Administration’s DOJ Decision Would “Cause Rates To Go Even Higher For Older Americans And Sicker Patients.” “Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections, such as guaranteed issue and community rating rules that help those with pre-existing conditions. Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019. Instead, we should focus on advancing proven solutions that ensure affordability for all consumers. [AHIP, 6/8/18]

Associated Press: Administration’s Decision Could “Nudge Premiums Even Higher.” “The Trump administration’s decision to stop defending in court the Obama health law’s popular protections for consumers with pre-existing conditions could prove risky for Republicans in the midterm elections — and nudge premiums even higher.” [CNBC, 6/8/18]

Timothy Jost, Washington & Lee University Law Professor: Administration’s Decision Could Leave Millions Of Americans Facing “Denial Of Coverage Or Higher Premiums.” “Yesterday, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice dropped a bombshell in a rural Texas federal courthouse. The administration stated in a court filing (and also in letters to Congressional leaders) that it would not defend three key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the judge in the case agrees, millions of Americans with preexisting conditions could face denial of coverage or higher premiums.” [Commonwealth Fund, 6/8/18]

Ceci Connolly, Alliance Of Community Health Plans: Administration’s Decision Decision Could Spark Fresh Market Instability. “Ceci Connolly, president of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, called the legal position ‘troubling’ and warned it could spark fresh market instability. ‘At the very least it adds uncertainty at exactly the moment when plans are trying to set rates for next year,’ Connolly said in a statement. ‘At the worst, it could strip away guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. We don’t want to return to the days when people who needed the care the most could be turned away because of their health status.’” [Modern Healthcare, 6/8/18]

Fortune: If Administration’s Decision Is Implemented, “There’s A Strong Change Insurers Would Begin Charging Sicker People Significantly More.” “To date, many low-income people have been shielded from those increases since federal subsidies to help pay premiums rise in tandem with the spikes. Middle-class families who don’t qualify for the subsidies are left either swallowing the higher premiums or forgoing coverage. If the protections for people with pre-existing conditions are ultimately shot down, there’s a strong chance insurers would begin charging sicker people significantly more for their coverage while younger and healthier Americans would see lower prices.” [Fortune, 6/11/18]

Former HHS Secretary Tom Price: GOP Actions Responsible For Premium Increases. “President Trump’s former top health official on Tuesday said the Republican tax law would raise the cost of health insurance for some Americans because it repealed a core provision of the Affordable Care Act. Tom Price, Trump’s first secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said people buying insurance on government-run marketplaces will face higher prices because the tax law repealed the ACA’s individual mandate. The mandate had forced most Americans to have health coverage or face a financial penalty. ‘There are many, and I’m one of them, who believes that that actually will harm the pool in the exchange market, because you’ll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently that drives up the cost for other folks within that market,’ Price said at the World Health Care Conference in Washington.” [Washington Post, 5/1/18]

America’s Health Insurance Plans: Republican Sabotage Will “Drive Up The Rate Of Premium Increases.” “Policies that disproportionately draw healthy consumers away from the individual market, like expanding access to short-term plans, will likely have an even more devastating effect on affordability, choice and competition. This will further result in adverse selection, drive up the rate of premium increases, and exacerbate affordability issues for many other people.” [America’s Health Insurance Plans Letter to HHS, 4/20/18]

Cynthia Cox, Kaiser Family Foundation: “In The Absence Of Efforts To Undermine The Market, We Would Be Seeing A Period Of Relatively Small Premium Increases.” “‘In the absence of efforts to undermine the market, we would be seeing a period of relatively small premium increases, driven mostly by the underlying growth in health care costs,’ said Cynthia Cox, the lead author of the Kaiser Family Foundation report. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re in for another year of double-digit premium increases. And if that does happen, it would be in large part due to policy changes that are happening.’” [Huffington Post, 5/18/18]

Kris Haltmeyer, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Vice President: “With The Repeal Of The Individual Mandate And The Failure Of Congress To Enact Stabilization Legislation, We Are Expecting Premiums To Go Up Substantially.” Kris Haltmeyer, a vice president at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, told reporters that the premium increases were in part due to the repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the Republican tax reform bill in December. He also cited lawmakers’ failure to pass a bill aimed at shoring up the market, which fell apart earlier this year amid a partisan dispute over abortion restrictions. ‘With the repeal of the individual mandate and the failure of Congress to enact stabilization legislation, we are expecting premiums to go up substantially,’ Haltmeyer said. He estimated that average premium increases nationwide will be in the ‘low teens,’ but that there will be major variation across areas, ranging from the low single digits to up to 70 or 80 percent.” [The Hill, 5/23]

New York Times Editorial Board: “The Administration’s Health Care Sabotage Efforts Have Already Had A Big Impact”: A 30-Percent Premium Increase. “The administration’s health care sabotage efforts have already had a big impact — but not the kind of impact officials promised. Insurance companies raised average premiums for 2018 A.C.A. policies by 30 percent. This has mostly hurt middle-class families who have to pay full freight for health insurance because they make too much money to qualify for subsidies and don’t get coverage through their employer. Few experts were surprised when the Commonwealth Fund found that the percentage of American adults who did not have health insurance jumped to 15.5 percent this year, from 12.7 percent before Mr. Trump took office. Experts say those numbers could climb higher still when the penalty for not having insurance goes away next year.” [NYT, 5/3/18]

Commonwealth Fund: Rollback Of Health Insurance Gains Spurred By “Actions By The Current Administration.” “The marked gains in health insurance coverage made since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 are beginning to reverse, according to new findings from the latest Commonwealth Fund ACA Tracking Survey. The coverage declines are likely the result of two major factors: 1) lack of federal legislative actions to improve specific weaknesses in the ACA and 2) actions by the current administration that have exacerbated those weaknesses. These include the administration’s deep cuts in advertising and outreach during the marketplace open-enrollment periods, a shorter open enrollment period, and other actions that collectively may have left people with a general sense of confusion about the status of the law. Signs point to further erosion of insurance coverage in 2019: the repeal of the individual mandate penalty included in the 2017 tax law, recent actions to increase the availability of insurance policies that don’t comply with ACA minimum benefit standards, and support for Medicaid work requirements.” [Commonwealth Fund, 5/1/18]

Center For American Progress: “Combined, The Recent Tax Law’s Repeal Of The Individual Mandate And The Administration’s Short-Term Plan Rule Will Undermine The Individual Insurance Market And Increase Premiums For ACA-Compliant Coverage.” “Last year, as part of the tax law, Congress eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty. Given the mandate’s important role in encouraging healthier people to enroll in the marketplaces, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that, in 2019, this will increase average premiums in the individual market by 10 percent. Furthermore, in February 2018, the Trump administration proposed a rule to expand short-term health insurance plans… Along with the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, this expansion of short-term plans will drive up average premiums for ACA-compliant coverage in the individual market. Recent preliminary rate filings in Virginia demonstrate that these actions are contributing to significant premium increases for marketplace coverage in 2019. In fact, some Virginia insurers specifically cited the individual mandate repeal and short-term plan rule as major factors in their rate filings… Combined, the recent tax law’s repeal of the individual mandate and the administration’s short-term plan rule will undermine the individual insurance market and increase premiums for ACA-compliant coverage.” [CAP, 5/18]

New York Times: “Rather Than Trying To Eliminate Obamacare In One Fell Swoop, [Republicans Are] Trying To Undermine It With Multiple Acts Of Sabotage – While Hoping Voters Won’t Realize Who’s Responsible For Rising Premiums And Falling Coverage.” “At the beginning of 2017, Republicans promised to release the kraken on Obamacare — to destroy the program with one devastating blow. But a funny thing happened: Voters realized that repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean taking health insurance away from tens of millions of Americans. They didn’t like that prospect — and enough Republicans balked at the backlash that Obamacare repeal fizzled. But Republicans still hate the idea of helping Americans get health care. So instead of releasing the kraken, they’ve brought on the termites. Rather than trying to eliminate Obamacare in one fell swoop, they’re trying to undermine it with multiple acts of sabotage — while hoping voters won’t realize who’s responsible for rising premiums and falling coverage.” [NYT, 5/8/18]

Washington Post Editorial Board: “The Numbers Suggest That [The ACA’s] Critics’ Sabotage Efforts Are To Blame. “The effects of the president’s underinformed instincts, enabled by the ideologues in his administration, are beginning to show up in some of the numbers, representing real pain that Americans are suffering for Mr. Trump’s deficient leadership… Obamacare critics regularly describe all problems as the inevitable result of a poorly designed law. But the numbers suggest that the critics’ sabotage efforts are to blame. After impressive declines during President Barack Obama’s second term, the fund found that the uninsured rate increased in both of the years Mr. Trump has been in office. During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly complained that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) left too many Americans uncovered. The result of nearly a year and a half of Mr. Trump’s leadership is 4 million people added to that group.” [Washington Post, 5/8/18]

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey: 2018 Premium Increase Was Due To Federal Policy.Three factors connected to federal policy decisions are responsible for 14.7% of the 24.3% total average individual premium increase: Weakened enforcement of the Individual Mandate…Elimination of federal funding for Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR), [and] 2018 reinstatement of Health Insurance Tax…Were it not for the three factors within the control of the Federal Government, Horizon BCBSNJ’s individual premiums would have an average increase of 9.6%.” [Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, 10/17/17]

CEO of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield: Things Are “Materially Worse” Under Trump. “Continuing actions on the part of the administration to systematically undermine the market and make it almost impossible to carry out the mission…If continued efforts at the federal level undermine the marketplaces, I would think the board would have to examine what they would want — that’s very much on their mind.” [Washington Post, 5/1/18]

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: “We, The Republican Party…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. [Hart Research, 9/5/17]

Health Care Advocates Out in Full Force Against GOP Repeal Plan

Today, as Govs. Matt Bevin and Phil Bryant and former senator Rick Santorum announced the latest iteration of the GOP’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act at the Hoover Institution, they were greeted by health care advocates demanding they stop their attacks on Americans’ care. Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“The GOP just doesn’t get it. Today, Washington Republicans – with the help of two governors who have actively worked to prevent their constituents from obtaining health care coverage – announced the latest version of health care repeal that was firmly rejected last year. No matter how they try to spin it, it contains the same devastating provisions: it would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, impose an age tax on older Americans, and end Medicaid expansion. Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to end its war on our health care.”

Among other things, Graham-Cassidy 2.0 would:

  • Gut protections for pre-existing conditions, forcing people to choose between bankruptcy and staying alive;
  • Let insurance companies charge older people an age tax;
  • Let insurance companies could deny coverage for ‘essential health benefits,’ such as maternity care, prescription drug coverage, and treatment for substance use disorders;
  • End Medicaid expansion;
  • Take away coverage from millions, driving up the uninsured rate; and
  • Give the wealthiest yet another tax break. while ending tax credits for while middle-income Americans

What are Bevin, Bryant and Santorum’s health records?

Matt Bevin Has Threatened to Take Health Care From 500,000 Kentuckians If Courts Strike Down His Work Requirements. “Attorneys for Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) will tell a federal court this Friday that that the governor plans to take his ball and go home if he can’t get his way on Medicaid work requirements, premiums, and other restrictions. Bevin, who campaigned on ending the Medicaid expansion but backed down from that threat once elected, is now arguing that he will scrap the state’s Medicaid expansion if the controversial new rules are struck down by federal courts. Kentucky was the first state in the nation to win permission from the Trump administration to impose the new Medicaid rules, which are expected to throw nearly 100,000 Kentuckians off the program. With at least a dozen other states looking to adopt their own Medicaid work requirements, the outcome of the case could determine the future of the program not only in Kentucky but across the country.” [Talking Points Memo, 6/14/18]

Phil Bryant Opposed Expanding Medicaid Because Recipients Go To The Doctor Too Often Because They Have “Nothing Else To Do.” “Kaiser Health News: What is the cost to the state of having 17 percent of the population without health insurance? Phil Bryant: I would rather pay extra to Blue Cross [to help cover uncompensated costs for the uninsured], rather than have to raise taxes to pay for additional Medicaid recipients. Medicaid recipients multiply their visits to a physician. It’s clear once someone goes on Medicaid, the number of times they go to a physician doubles, quadruples. KHN: Some experts may argue people new to Medicaid have many health issues they need to address. Bryant: I make the argument that it’s free. It’s free and you have nothing else to do.” [Kaiser Health News, 1/23/13]

Rick Santorum Compared The ACA To Apartheid. “Nelson Mandela stood up against a great injustice and was willing to pay a huge price for that, and that’s the reason he is mourned today, because of that struggle that he performed…and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that.” [“O’Reily Factor,” Fox News, 12/5/13]

 

Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to end its war on Americans’ health care.

Two Fronts of a Continuing Assault: The GOP Finalizes Junk Insurance Plans and Announces Another Repeal Bill

This afternoon, conservative groups announced their latest plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Across town the Trump Administration announced a finalized rule on association health plans. In other words, it was just another day in the GOP’s war on Americans’ health care.

NO RAVES FOR REPEAL RETREAD

Wall Street Journal: “The Latest Plan Is One Front Of A Continuing Assault On The ACA By Republicans.” “The latest plan is one front of a continuing assault on the ACA by Republicans and conservatives in the aftermath of the failed previous effort to repeal it. While the Justice Department has asked a court to toss out key provisions of the health law, the 20 GOP state attorneys general in the lawsuit want the court to end the law altogether.” [WSJ, 6/19]

The Hill: “The Plan Eliminates Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits.” “Experts note that block grants, though, could lead to cuts in health services if they do not grow over time in the way that the current open-ended system does. The plan also eliminates ObamaCare’s essential health benefits, which require plans to cover a range of services like mental health and prescription drugs. Backers argue this would lead to cheaper plans being available.” [The Hill, 6/19]

Los Angeles Times: “The New Approach Would Scrap Many Of The Current Law’s Insurance Protections.” “The new approach would scrap many of the current law’s insurance protections, including its system of guaranteeing coverage to low-income Americans through either Medicaid or subsidized commercial insurance. ‘The proposal would repeal the individual entitlement to premium and cost-sharing reduction subsidies and Medicaid expansion,’ note the authors… Many of the repeal proposals envisioned not only rolling back the current law but restricting federal funding for the entire Medicaid program, which covers more than 70 million low-income Americans.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/19]

Insurance News Net: Plan “Would Eliminate The ACA’s Medicaid Expansion As Well As The Subsidies That Help People Buy Coverage.” “Groups led by the Heritage Foundation, the Galen Institute and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., drafted the plan, which will be formally announced Wednesday. It would eliminate the ACA’s Medicaid expansion as well as the subsidies that help people buy coverage. Instead, it would convert that money into block grants for the states… In addition, the plan would eliminate the essential health benefits that plans are required to cover under the ACA.” [Insurance News Net, 6/19]

National Review: “Broadly Speaking, This Is Similar To The Graham-Cassidy Bill.” [National Review, 6/19]

Center On Budget And Policy Priorities: New Proposal “Would Have The Same Severe Effects On Health Insurance Coverage, Access To Care, And Many Americans’ Health And Financial Security As Last Year’s Repeal Bills.”  “The new plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would have the same severe effects on health insurance coverage, access to care, and many Americans’ health and financial security as last year’s repeal bills.  Like them, it would eliminate the ACA’s Medicaid expansion for low-income adults, lead to sharply increased health care costs for millions of moderate-income individual-market consumers — especially older people — eliminate consumer protections that are especially crucial for people with pre-existing health conditions, and cause millions to lose coverage.” [CBPP, 6/19]

Center For American Progress: “Graham-Cassidy 2.0 Could Cut ACA Funding For Coverage By 31 Percent By 2028.” “Although this is a new plan, it merely recycles some of the worst elements of the failed Graham-Cassidy repeal bill—which experts consider the “the most harmful” repeal bill.5 Graham-Cassidy 2.0 would lead to the same disastrous results: Millions of Americans would lose health care coverage; Protections for pre-existing conditions would be decimated; Costs would increase for lower-income, older, and sick Americans; Massive disruption would occur, causing insurers to drop out of marketplaces… Based on the plan’s specifications and the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) updated baseline of ACA funding under current law, the Center for American Progress estimates that Graham-Cassidy 2.0 could cut ACA funding for health coverage by 31 percent by 2028 and by 26 percent  from 2022 to 2028.” [CAP, 6/19]

ASSOCIATION HEALTH PLANS PANNED

CNN: “The Move Could Weaken” Consumer Protections “And Make Coverage More Expensive.” “The Trump administration is taking the final step Tuesday in its plan aimed at making health insurance policies cheaper for some small businesses. But the move could weaken some of the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections for those buying these plans and make coverage more expensive for those who remain on the Obamacare exchanges.” [CNN, 6/19]

Associated Press: “State Regulators Are Concerned About Association Health Plans Because Similar Plans In The Past Had Problems With Financial Solvency And Even Fraud.” “State insurance regulators are concerned about association health plans because similar plans in the past had problems with financial solvency and even fraud. A big concern about Tuesday’s announcement is to what degree state regulators will retain oversight over the Trump administration’s new plans.” [USA Today, 6/19]

New York Times: Plans “Could Drive Up Premiums, Which Have Increased As Mr. Trump And Republicans In Congress Have Undercut Many Elements Of The [ACA].” “But consumer groups, state officials and Blue Cross Blue Shield plans have long opposed such ideas. They say association health plans will tend to attract employers with younger, healthier workers, leaving behind sicker people in more comprehensive, more expensive plans that fully comply with the Affordable Care Act. That could drive up premiums, which have increased as Mr. Trump and Republicans in Congress have undercut many elements of the law, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.” [NYT, 6/19]

Washington Post: “The Move Could Be Characterized As Sort Of An ‘Obamacare Repeal Plan B.’” “Association plans have been around for years, but the Trump administration is expanding eligibility as a way to provide cheaper options for people to afford health insurance. The move could be characterized as sort of an ‘Obamacare Repeal Plan B’ made up of efforts by Trump appointees to pull back on the law administratively now that Congress has failed to eliminate the ACA.” [Washington Post, 6/19]

Chris Hansen, American Cancer Society: People With Serious Illnesses Like Cancer Could Face ‘Ever-Increasing Premiums For Comprehensive Coverage.” [NYT, 6/19]

Avalere: Rule Will “Increase Premiums As Much As 4 Percent.” “Avalere Health, a Washington D.C.-based consulting firm, predicted 4.3 million people would leave the individual and small-group markets, which would increase premiums as much as 4 percent by 2022. Avalere performed the analysis for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the lobbying group for the health insurance industry.” [USA Today, 6/19]

Wall Street Journal: Due To Plan, “Costs For Consumers Who Buy Their Own Coverage On The Individual Market Are Likely To Rise.” “While premiums for association plans will probably be significantly cheaper, costs for consumers who buy their own coverage on the individual market are likely to rise, analysts say. Those higher premiums are expected to increase the number of Americans without coverage.” [WSJ, 6/19]

Wall Street Journal: “Associations With A Preponderance Of Female Employees Could Be Charged More.” “Women couldn’t be charged more within individual plans, but associations with a preponderance of female employees could be charged more overall, according to the senior Labor Department official. Some critics have said women and older people will pay more, and they’ve said the plans will essentially be able to discriminate against consumers by offering some benefits and omitting others, such as cancer treatments or certain prescriptions.” [WSJ, 6/19]

CNBC: “Health Providers, Insurers And Medical Groups Have Warned That The Plans Could Drive Up Premiums And Make Insurance Unaffordable.” “These insurance plans would not be subject to requirements under the Affordable Care Act, which included mandatory coverage for 10 essential health benefits, such as maternity and newborn care, prescription drug costs and mental health treatment… Health providers, insurers and medical groups have warned that the plans could drive up premiums and make insurance unaffordable for some people by siphoning healthy consumers who want cheaper coverage, leaving behind a pool of sicker patients with higher medical costs in ACA plans.” [CNBC, 6/19]

Vox: AHPs “Are Not Required To Cover All Of The Essential Health Benefits Mandated By The Affordable Care Act.” “Association health plans, the subject of the new rules, do not have to follow the same rules as individual policies sold under Obamacare, meaning they are not required to cover all of the essential health benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act, like maternity care, an important piece of the law’s protections for people with preexisting conditions.” [Vox, 6/19]

Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation: “The Clear Intent Of The Executive Order Is To Create A Parallel Insurance Market Exempt From Many Of The Consumer Protections In The Affordable Care Act.” “‘The clear intent of the executive order is to create a parallel insurance market exempt from many of the consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act,’ Larry Levitt at the Kaiser Family Foundation told me last year. ‘This has the potential to siphon off healthy people with skinnier benefits and cheaper premiums, leaving behind a sicker pool of people under ACA plans.’” [Vox, 6/19]

Karen Pollitz, Kaiser Family Foundation: “They Could Have A Destabilizing Effect.” “‘To the extent that these plans develop and serve as a parallel market, that could have a destabilizing effect,’ said Karen Pollitz of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on individual health insurance. Pollitz also served as a consumer protection regulator in the Obama administration. ‘People who think they can get by without those (comprehensive) benefits will look for cheaper premiums,’ she added.” [USA Today, 6/19]

Politico: “Critics Warn The Steps Will Further Destabilize” Insurance Markets. “Critics warn the steps will further destabilize wobbly Obamacare markets by siphoning off younger and healthier customers, who are more likely to favor cheaper plans that cover less. The law’s insurance markets have already been beset by skyrocketing premiums and diminishing competition, problems that are likely to grow worse if the customer base becomes even smaller and sicker.” [Politico, 6/19]

Highmark CEO David Holmberg: Rule Change “Creates A New Set Of Uncertainties.” “Highmark CEO David Holmberg said the health insurer, which is finally making money on Obamacare customers after years of losses, is committed to remaining in the law’s markets in Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. However, he said the changes coming out of Washington are adding new challenges. ‘We can see a path where we could stabilize this, but we continue to see rule changes,’ Holmberg told POLITICO. ‘That creates a new set of uncertainties.’” [Politico, 6/19]

Families USA: “With Surgical Precision, The Proposed Rule Repeals The Most Important Limitations On AHP Sales.” “With surgical precision, the proposed rule repeals the most important current limitations on AHP sales: Under federal law, AHPs are supposed to be business associations offering insurance plans to their business members… Currently, when small businesses buy plans through an association like the chamber of commerce, those plans still must include the protections that apply to other small groups, and the plans are subject to state and federal oversight. This would all change under the proposed rule. An AHP could be offered by a supposed ‘association’ that does nothing but provide health insurance. That ‘association’s’ membership could be united by just residence in a common geographic area or work in the same trade or industry. While an AHP cannot explicitly exclude people or companies based on health status, health costs, or health conditions, an AHP can use ‘redlining’ to avoid high-cost members, excluding particular geographic areas or lines of work that tend to be associated with high health care expenses.” [Families USA, 6/19]

Seven Things You Should Know About Republicans’ Latest Repeal ‘Plan’

  1. The Republican ‘Plan’ Would Gut Protections For Pre-Existing Conditions, Forcing People To Choose Between Bankruptcy And Staying Alive. The latest Republican repeal plan would repeal key consumer protections, including the guarantee that people with pre-existing conditions can buy coverage at the same price as someone who isn’t sick. Under the repeal plan, states would no longer use single risk pools, meaning those who are sick or at risk of becoming sick could be forced to pay much more. As Loren Adler, the Associate Director of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative For Health Policy, notes: “The Heritage document attempts to obfuscate this point, but it’s quite clear it would unwind the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”
  2. It Would Let Insurance Companies Charge Older People An Age Tax. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance companies are barred from charging older Americans more than three times the amount they charge younger consumers. However, under the Republican plan, insurance companies would once again be allowed to charge older people many times more for the same coverage.
  3. Insurance Companies Could Deny Coverage For ‘Essential Health Benefits,’ Such As Maternity Care, Prescription Drug Coverage, And Treatment For Substance Use Disorders. The new plan would let states waive the requirement that insurance companies cover the ten essential health benefits established by the ACA. Removing these guaranteed benefits would make it harder for Americans to access comprehensive health care. These ten essential health benefits include ambulatory services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity care, mental health and substance use disorder services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative and habilitative services, laboratory services, preventive services, and pediatric services.
  4.  Millions Would Lose Coverage, Increasing The Number Of Uninsured. The proposal would repeal Medicaid expansion and replace marketplace subsidies with underfunded block grants to states. Under the proposal, 50 percent of the block grants would be spent on private insurance, limiting states’ ability to cover people through Medicaid. These insufficient funds and spending requirements would result in significant coverage losses
  5. Medicaid Expansion Would Disappear. States that expanded Medicaid would lose under the Republican plan. As Larry Levitt, Senior Vice President of the Kaiser Family Foundation, highlights: “Over time, federal funding under the new conservative block grant program would be equalized across states based on the number of low-income residents. States that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA would be winners. States that have would be losers.” Cuts to Medicaid lead to coverage losses, and threaten the stability of rural hospitals.
  6. Rich Families Get Yet Another Tax Break. The bill would double Health Savings Account (HSA) contribution limits, benefiting families who can afford to contribute thousands of dollars to these tax-deductible accounts. This, from the same party that just passed a $1.5 trillion tax break that disproportionately benefited the wealthy and gave health industry companies billions.
  7. …While Middle-Income Americans Lose Tax Credits That Help Families Afford Coverage. The Republican plan wants to “refocus subsidies” by directing block grants toward the states. As Adler remarks, these cuts target middle-class Americans: “Apparently Heritage also thinks the problem with the ACA is that the middle class [people without] employer coverage get subsidies to purchase health insurance [and] wants to limit that.”

House GOP Budget Proposal Latest Attack on Americans’ Care

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Republicans released a budget resolution which contains massive health care cuts and paves the way for full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement in response:

“Tomorrow marks the six-month anniversary of the passage of Congressional Republicans’ trillion-dollar tax scam, when Congressional Republicans voted to take health care away from millions of Americans and raise costs on tens of millions more in order to cut taxes for the wealthiest and corporations – but apparently this wasn’t enough, and Congressional Republicans continue to launch almost-daily attacks on Americans’ care. Today’s Republican budget would pave the way for them to repeal the Affordable Care Act, slash Medicare and Medicaid, and drastically cut other health programs when what Americans need is relief from the onslaught of GOP health care sabotage. Enough is enough – it’s time for Republicans to end their war on health care.”