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June 2018

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

Washington, D.C. – As preliminary New Mexico rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicated up to 18.5% average premium increases due to D.C. Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage agenda, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress are engaged in a deliberate, escalating campaign to undermine health care, and now families in New Mexico are being asked to pay the price. Just last week, the Trump Administration announced it will ask the courts to strike down key provisions of the Affordable Care Act including protections for people with pre-existing conditions, driving up costs even more. While insurance companies make huge profits and enjoy record tax breaks from Washington Republicans, they are planning to hike rates on working families in New Mexico. Until we stop Republicans’ war on health care, health care experts predict that rates will continue to rise by double digits because of their actions to undermine the system. Washington Republicans should stand up to the Trump Administration’s lawsuit and start working on bipartisan solutions to make coverage more affordable, and stop helping their friends in the insurance industry make another buck on the backs of hardworking New Mexicans.”

From the Insurance Companies:

CHRISTUS: Additional 6 Percent Adjustment “Due To The Uncertainty About The Market Environment.” “Due to the uncertainty about the market environment that will exist at the time the proposed rates take effect, the rates include a 6% additional adjustment from 2018, for less tangible items, including non-enforcement fo the individual mandate and reduced advertising and outreach.” [CHRISTUS via Charles Gaba, 6/13/18]

Why New Mexicans’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive:

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 New Mexico forecast double-digit 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.
  • Just last week, the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice launched an unprecedented attack on Americans with pre-existing conditions, which has drawn widespread condemnation from prominent health care advocacy groups, patient and provider groups, and insurance company associations.
  • 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 New Mexico, no short-term plans available have to cover maternity care, and none of the 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 52 percent in New Mexico.

  • 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 New Mexico by an average 9.1 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 New Mexicans’ care.

  • 49,792 New Mexicans signed up for Marketplace coverage this year.
  • Thanks to the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion, New Mexico’s uninsured rate fell by 6.5 percent between 2013 and 2016 as New Mexicans have gained access to affordable coverage.
  • Before today’s announcement, the Urban Institute predicted that New Mexico premiums for 2019 could rise 9.1 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 79 percent of New Mexico Marketplace consumers, whose average 2018 premium is $88 per month.
  • But because of the Republican sabotage agenda, many middle-income New Mexicans could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more than they would have otherwise.


New Mexicans 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.





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 & Rural Forward Release Report on New Threats to Rural America

Protect Our Care and Rural Forward are today releasing a new report, “A Tough Row to Hoe: How Republican Policies are Leaving Rural Health Care in the Dust.” The report examines how Republican attacks on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act are wreaking havoc in rural communities, where hospital closures are threatening access to care and local economies.

Read the report here.

“This report shows how the relentless war on health care being waged by President Trump and Republicans in Congress is reversing recent gains in rural coverage, raising premiums, and threatening key components of the rural health care system, especially rural hospitals,” said Brad Woodhouse, Protect Our Care Campaign Director.

“Rural communities have a lot to lose if President Trump and Republicans in Congress keep undermining Medicaid and pushing their repeal and sabotage agenda. Almost 90% of rural hospitals that have closed since the Affordable Care Act were in states that refused to expand Medicaid,” said John Whitaker, Executive Director, Rural Forward.

This morning, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congressman Donald McEachin (VA-04) join Protect Our Care and Rural Forward at a Capitol Hill press conference to launch the new report.

Watch the press conference at 10AM ET.

Azar Confirms: Trump Lied About Plan to Lower Drug Costs

During his campaign for President, Donald Trump promised to let Medicare negotiate discounts on prescription drug prices. Trump even said the reason it hadn’t happened already was because of the control big drug companies exert on the political system.

But as President, Trump has refused to act on his promise, and yesterday Trump’ HHS Secretary admitted the Administration will never follow through.

SHOT: In 2016, candidate Trump fully backed Medicare negotiating drug prices.The Associated Press quotes Trump as telling a crowd in Farmington, N.H., that Medicare, a huge buyer of prescription drugs, could ‘save $300 billion’ a year if it negotiated discounts.” [Politico, 1/25/16]

CHASER: Yesterday, former Eli Lilly executive, Sec. Azar blasted proposal for Medicare to negotiate drug prices. [Modern Health Care, 6/13/18]

While millions of American families pay higher drug prices, the Trump administration has thrown its lot in with PhRMA and the big drug companies, rewarding them with huge tax breaks and refusing to take real action to bring down costs.

Protect Our Care Statement on McConnell Pre-Existing Conditions Claim

After Mitch McConnell claimed to reporters that “everybody I know in the Senate — everybody — is in favor of maintaining coverage for pre-existing conditions,” Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Lie of the year. Hands down.”


Not one Republican U.S. Senator has called on President Trump’s Department of Justice to back off its outrageous argument that pre-existing condition protections should be ruled unconstitutional and taken away from up to 132 million Americans.

Republican Senators actively support and want to codify the Trump Administration’s short-term and association health plan proposals, which would encourage Americans to buy products that are allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.Since 2013, McConnell has repeatedly pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act “root and branch.” The Affordable Care Act guaranteed protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, which did not exist prior to its passage, and would be repealed if the Affordable Care Act were eliminated root and branch.

Alex Azar Throws 130 Million Americans Under the Bus

This morning, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar refused to even acknowledge or address last week’s shock move by the Trump Administration to attack critical protections for up to 132 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. In response to a pointed question from Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Azar made the laughable argument that the new attack is “a legal matter” and “not a policy position” and refused to explain or defend the Administration’s outrageous new stance. Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse responded:

“Once again, Secretary Azar misled the public about the Trump Administration’s dangerous attacks on Americans’ health care. When Senator Hassan pointed out the simple fact that the Administration’s actions to axe protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions could prevent millions of Americans from getting needed care, Secretary Azar said that the Trump Administration’s position is ‘not a policy position,’ and refused to explain or defend it. This is a ludicrous and plainly false statement, and Secretary Azar and the Trump Administration should be ashamed of both their dangerous action and their subsequent refusal to square with the public about how this lawsuit could wreak havoc on our health care.”


HASSAN: I want to turn to a different topic now. This administration has released its blueprint and it says it wants to lower prescription drug costs. As you and I have discussed I don’t think the blueprint accomplishes what it sets out to do, but not even a month after releasing the blueprint the Trump administration told a federal court that it would not defend the preexisting conditions. This administration is talking out of both sides of its mouth. If the ACA protections disappear because the Trump Administration is putting politics over people and refusing to defend these very popular provisions in the ACA, then many Americans who need health insurance won’t be able to get it. Meaning they won’t have insurance to help them afford their medication. This, Mr. Secretary, is like some kind of sick joke. The Administration is trying to pull the wool over the American people’s eyes, paying lip service to affordable prescription drugs and their do-little blueprint, while gutting protections for preexisting conditions which will make drugs less affordable for patients who lose their coverage. Given that the ACA’s preexisting conditions protections are critical, yes or no, will you encourage the Trump Administration to change its position and defend the preexisting conditions protections in the Affordable Care Act?

AZAR: So the position articulated by the Attorney General is a constitutional and legal position, not a policy position. But we share the view of working to ensure that individuals with preexisting conditions can have access to affordable health insurance. We look forward to working with congress under all circumstances.

HASSAN: Then the President should instruct his Attorney General and the Department of Justice to do what they are obligated to do defend the Affordable Care Act, by the way, provisions of which such as this one, the American people overwhelmingly support.


Key Stakeholders Overwhelmingly Oppose Trump Administration’s Attack On People With Pre-Existing Conditions

People who understand the health care needs of Americans with pre-existing conditions the best, think the Trump administration’s new lawsuit is the worst.

After the Justice Department’s shock decision to try to outlaw protections for people with pre-existing conditions, warnings poured in from prominent health care advocacy groups, patient and provider groups, and insurance company associations:

Joint Statement From Five Disease Groups — American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Patients May Be Forced To “Delay, Skip Or Forego Care.” “Should this case be successful, people with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and any serious or chronic condition are likely to be denied coverage due to their pre-existing conditions or charged such high premiums because of their health status that they will be unable to afford any coverage that may be offered. Without access to comprehensive coverage patients will be forced to delay, skip or forego care. This was often the case before the law took effect and would likely be the same should these essential protections be eliminated…Striking down these provisions would be catastrophic and have dire consequences for many patients with serious illnesses.” [Joint Statement, 6/8/18]

Joint Statement From Six Provider Groups — American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, and American Psychiatric Association: “The Elimination Of These Protections Could Result In Millions Of People Facing Limited Access To Health Care Coverage And Higher Cost As A Result Of Insurers Being Allowed To Return To Discriminatory Coverage And Pricing Practices.” “Our organizations, which represent a combined membership of more than 560,000 physician and medical student members are concerned about the Department of Justice’s decision to not defend the constitutionality of existing laws that extend patient protections to individuals in insurance markets as part of Texas v United States. The elimination of these protections could result in millions of people facing limited access to health care coverage and higher cost as a result of insurers being allowed to return to discriminatory coverage and pricing practices…As physicians who provide a majority of care to individuals for physical and mental conditions, we can speak clearly that these insurance reforms and protections are essential to ensuring that the more than 130 million Americans, especially the more than 31 million individuals between the ages of 55 and 64, who have at least one pre-existing condition are able to secure affordable health care coverage.” [Joint Statement on Texas v. United States, 6/9/18]

American Psychiatric Association: “This Decision Could Lead To Insurers Denying Coverage To The 130 Million Americans With Pre-existing Conditions…Is In The Midst Of An Opioid Epidemic And 30% Rise In Suicide Rates.” “This decision could lead to insurers denying coverage to the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. This is harmful to the health of these Americans and is very short-sighted considering the nation is in the midst of an opioid epidemic and 30% rise in suicide rates.” [American Psychiatric Association, 6/8/18]

The Arc: “Another Example Of The Trump Administration’s Intent To Undermine Access To Health Insurance For Millions Of People With Disabilities.” “The actions of the Department of Justice are another example of the Trump Administration’s intent to undermine access to health insurance for millions of people with disabilities by dismantling the Affordable Care Act.  It exposes the Administration’s intent to eliminate critical protections for people with pre-existing conditions who benefit from provisions in the law that assure access to affordable health insurance. The ongoing attempts to dismantle this law highlight a disturbing disregard, by the Trump Administration, for the needs of people with disabilities who rely on the Affordable Care Act for their health and wellbeing.” [The Arc, 6/8/18]

Brain Injury Association of America: People With Pre-Existing Conditions, Like A Brain Injury, Will Likely Lose Access To Essential Treatment And Rehabilitation.The Justice Department’s position threatens a core piece of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. If the court agrees, people with pre-existing conditions – like brain injury – will likely be forced to pay higher premiums and ultimately lose access to essential treatment and rehabilitation.” [Brain Injury Association of America, 6/8/18]

Margaret A. Murray, Chief Executive of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans: Anyone Who Has Had “So Much As A Case Of Asthma” Should Be “Deeply Unsettled.” Margaret A. Murray, the chief executive of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, which represents plans for low-income and vulnerable populations, said that anyone who has bought individual insurance ‘and has had so much as a case of asthma in their past should be deeply unsettled by the choices this administration has made.’” [Washington Post, 6/8/18]

America’s Health Insurance Plans: Administration’s Decision Will Cause Rates To Increase For Older, 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.” [America’s Health Insurance Plans, 6/8/18]

Trump Administration Escalates GOP War on Health Care, Attacks Protections for 130 Million Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions

Since January 2017, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have waged a relentless war on health care, trying anything and everything to undermine, sabotage, and repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last night, the Trump Administration launched its most egregious salvo yet: its lawyers are asking the courts to repeal key consumer protections that protect people with pre-existing conditions.

Overview of Texas v HHS and What the Trump Administration Just Did

Back in February, Republican state attorneys general from Texas and 19 other states filed a lawsuit arguing that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional now that Congress and President Trump repealed the individual mandate in their tax bill. The lawsuit argues the individual mandate, which required most people have health coverage or pay a fine, was crucial to making the Affordable Care Act work. Now that the individual mandate penalty has essentially been repealed, they argue the law is unworkable and should be struck down. Legal experts agree this argument is without merit.

Normally, the Department of Justice (DOJ) defends federal law in court. However, last night Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the DOJ will side with the Republican attorneys general and refuse to defend the constitutionality of the ACA. Moreover, the DOJ decided to specifically attack the ACA’s most popular reform, provisions banning insurance companies from denying coverage or charging people more because of a pre-existing condition.

The Trump Administration Wants to Put Insurance Companies Back in Charge to Deny Coverage and Charge More for People with Pre-Existing Conditions

While the courts and legal scholars debate these arguments, the real impact of the Trump Administration’s decision if they win the lawsuit is clear: overnight, Americans would once again be at the mercy of insurance companies, which could once again deny coverage or charge more because of a pre-existing condition. Roughly half of nonelderly American adults, or as many as 130 million people, have at least one pre-existing condition. Nationally, the most common pre-existing conditions were high blood pressure (44 million people), behavioral health disorders (45 million people), high cholesterol (44 million people), asthma and chronic lung disease (34 million people), and osteoarthritis and other joint disorders (34 million people).

The Trump Administration’s argument would also allow insurance companies to charge women more than men, and subject older Americans to an expensive “age tax” that would allows insurance companies to charge them much more.

DOJ Move Creates Uncertainty that Could Lead to Even Higher Rates

This all is happening at the same time as insurance companies in states across the country want to hike rates by double digits, pointing to Republican sabotage and uncertainty in the market as the reason. By creating even more uncertainty in the health care markets, the Trump Administration could raise health care costs even more for millions of people who are already facing double-digit hikes due to previous sabotage.

Our Health Care is at Stake

This dangerous lawsuit, now with the backing from the Trump Administration, threatens the care and coverage of tens of millions of Americans. If the courts rule in favor of the Republican attorneys general, critical Affordable Care Act protections would vanish overnight, unleashing chaos in our entire health care system. Our health care should not be at the mercy of partisan vendettas pushing “ludicrous” legal theories.

“The Justice Department Is Essentially Siding With Those Who Think That Health Insurance Companies Should Be Able to Sign Death Warrants For Sick People”: Trump Administration Launches Unprecedented Attack on Popular ACA Protections

Last night, the Trump Administration continued its historic sabotage of Americans’ health care when its Department of Justice said it will attack the Affordable Care Act’s popular provisions, including protections for those with pre-existing conditions, as unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court accepts their argument, insurance companies would be able to deny coverage for up to 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, and older Americans and women could once again face significant surcharges because of their or age gender.

Here’s how the shock news is being covered:

Los Angeles Times: Got A Preexisting Condition? The Trump Administration Wants Insurers To Deny You Coverage. “In its latest effort to undermine the Affordable Care Act — and in the process, raise premiums for many Americans — the Trump administration is urging a federal judge in Texas to throw out the law’s protections for people with preexisting conditions. In other words, the administration wants insurers to be able to deny coverage to the people most in need of it, or to charge them considerably higher premiums than they’re allowed to charge today. This is jaw-dropping. Even Republicans who’ve complained about Obamacare have been loath to undo the protections for people with preexisting conditions who are not covered by large employers’ health plans. That’s because the public supports them, and unequivocally so.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/8]

New York Times: “The Justice Department Said That The Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions Were Inseparable From The Individual Mandate And Must Also Be Struck Down.” “The Trump administration told a federal court on Thursday that it would no longer defend crucial provisions of the Affordable Care Act that protect consumers with pre-existing medical conditions. Under those provisions of the law, insurance companies cannot deny coverage or charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions… The Justice Department said that the protections for people with pre-existing conditions were inseparable from the individual mandate and must also be struck down.” [NYT, 6/7]

Talking Points Memo: Trump’s Midterm Gift To Dems: A War On Pre-Existing Condition Protections. “The Trump administration delivered an early midterms present to Democrats Thursday night when the Justice Department decided to side with 20 GOP states in a lawsuit seeking to gut the core protections of the Affordable Care Act for people with pre-existing conditions. The long-shot lawsuit argues that because Republicans repealed the ACA’s individual mandate penalty as part of their tax overhaul, all of the remaining law is unconstitutional. The Justice Department, in backing the state’s argument, is seeking to strike down two of Obamacare’s most popular provisions: the rule that insurance companies can’t turn someone away or charge them more based on a pre-existing condition, and the rule that limits how much insurers can charge older patients for their premiums.” [TPM, 6/8]

Bloomberg: Provisions DOJ Is Not Defending “Include Protecting People With Pre-Existing Medical Conditions From Being Charged More Or Being Denied Coverage.” “Since Congress repealed the penalty for not having insurance in its tax reform package last year, much of the rest of the insurance statute becomes unconstitutional in 2019 and must be ‘struck down,’ attorneys for the Justice Department said in a court filing Thursday. Such provisions include protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions from being charged more or being denied coverage.” [Bloomberg, 6/8]

USA Today: “The Brief Filed Thursday Night Is The Latest Attempt By His Administration To Weaken President Barack Obama’s Signature Health-Care Law.” “The Trump administration declared that it will no longer defend the Affordable Care Act from a challenge filed by 20 states because it agrees that the law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and that key parts of the act — including the provisions protecting those with pre-existing conditions — are invalid. President Trump has long declared the ACA, also known as Obamacare, to be a ‘disaster’ and the brief filed Thursday night is the latest attempt by his administration to weaken President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.” [USA Today, 6/8]

Huffington Post: Trump Administration Takes New Aim At Obamacare’s Pre-Existing Conditions. “The Trump administration on Thursday officially threw its support behind a new, seemingly far-fetched legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, arguing that the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional… The Trump administration’s contempt for Obamacare is no secret. And although the president and his supporters have sometimes said they believe in protections for people with pre-existing conditions, they have repeatedly taken action ― like trying to pass repeal legislation or rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s regulations on what plans must cover ― that seek to undermine or obliterate those protections entirely.” [Huffington Post, 6/7]

Donald Verrilli, Former United States Solicitor General: “I Find It Impossible To Believe That The Many Talented Lawyers At The Department Could Not Come Up With Any Arguments To Defend The ACA’s Insurance Market Reforms, Which Have Made Such A Difference To Millions Of Americans. [St. Louis Dispatch, 6/8]

Nicholas Bagley, Former Department of Justice Attorney: The Administration Decided “Its Dislike For The Affordable Care Act Outweighed Its Respect For The Rule Of Law.”  Bagley, a former Justice Department attorney, said the DOJ has a ‘durable, longstanding, bipartisan commitment’ to defending the laws passed by Congress as long as there is a legitimate ‘non-frivolous’ argument to be made in its defense. ‘The Justice Department has an obligation to defend the law and it has refused to do so because it dislikes this particular law,’ Bagley told USA TODAY. The administration decided its ‘dislike for the Affordable Care Act outweighed its respect for the rule of law.’ Bagley said the brief reveals the ‘depth of institutional decay at the Department of Justice’ and he expressed profound concern about the precedent it sets. [USA Today, 6/8]

Mother Jones: Donald Trump Takes Aim At Pre-Existing Conditions. “The Trump administration’s desperate desire to deprive Americans of health care entered a new phase tonight when Donald Trump personally approved a decision by the Justice Department not to defend Obamacare against state lawsuits… The Justice brief and letter say many other aspects of the law can survive because they can be considered legally distinct from the insurance mandate and such consumer protections as a ban on charging more or refusing coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions.” [Mother Jones, 6/7]

Gizmodo: “If The DOJ Is Successful, Millions Of Americans Could Be Denied The Ability To Buy Health Insurance.” “The U.S. Justice Department made an unusual argument to a federal court last night, claiming that Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions are unconstitutional. Roughly 1 in 4 Americans have pre-existing conditions that would make it difficult to buy insurance without those protections. If the DOJ is successful, millions of American could be denied the ability to buy health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, insurance companies can’t deny coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions, and it puts limits on how much those companies can charge. But the Trump regime wants to change all that, arguing in federal court along with 20 states that protections for pre-existing conditions should be abolished.” [Gizmodo, 6/8]

Associated Press: Justice Department Says Heart Of Affordable Care Act Unconstitutional. “The Trump administration said in a court filing late Thursday that it will no longer defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, including the requirement that people have health insurance and provisions that guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions. The decision, announced in a filing in a federal court in Texas, is a rare departure from the Justice Department’s practice of defending federal laws in court.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6/8]

Splinter News: The Trump Administration Is Now Trying To Sabotage Obamacare In The Courts. “The GOP tried and failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act last year, so now it’s trying another strategy: deciding not to fight a legal effort to rule key parts of the law unconstitutional, including the ban on insurers denying coverage or charging an obscene amount to people who have ‘pre-existing conditions’ … Because the Justice Department is essentially siding with those who think that health insurance companies should be able to sign death warrants for sick people, a group of 16 state attorneys general will defend the law in court.” [Splinter News, 6/8]

Mic: Today In Trump’s America: Trump Admin Urges Courts To Throw Out Pre-Existing Condition Protections. “In a response to a lawsuit filed by a group of conservative states that seeks to end the ACA, Trump’s Justice Department said Congress’ repeal of the individual mandate invalidates other key provisions of the heath care law. This includes rules that forbid insurers both from charging sick customers more for coverage or denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Those two provisions are some of the most popular aspects of the ACA, also known as Obamacare. And Republican attempts in 2017 to repeal Obamacare and those provisions were extremely unpopular and led to a backlash against Republican lawmakers.” [Mic, 6/8]

Roundup: Trump Justice Department Argues that Protections for Pre-existing Conditions are Unconstitutional

Tonight, the Trump Administration went to court to take away protections away from 52 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, and raise costs for millions more.

Headlines are emphasizing just how significant this decision is:

Washington Post: Trump Administration Won’t Defend ACA In Case Brought By GOP States. [6/7/18]

Vox: The Trump Administration Believes Obamacare’s Preexisting Conditions Protections Are Now Unconstitutional. [6/7/18]

CNN: Trump Administration Tells Court It Won’t Defend Key Provisions Of The Affordable Care Act. [6/7/18]

Axios: Trump’s Justice Department Says The ACA Is Unconstitutional. [6/7/18]

Politico: Trump Administration Backs Court Case To Overturn Obamacare Provisions. [6/7/18]

Talking Points Memo: Trump’s Justice Department Refuses To Defend Obamacare In Court. [6/7/18]

The Hill: Justice Dept. Argues Key Parts Of ObamaCare Are Unconstitutional. [6/7/18]

Washington Examiner: Trump Administration Tells Court It Won’t Defend Obamacare Against Lawsuit Seeking To Cripple It. [6/7/18]

Reuters: U.S. Justice Department Says Obamacare Individual Mandate Unconstitutional. [6/7/18]

And experts underscore just how dangerous it will be:

Larry Levitt, Vice President For Health Policy At Kaiser Family Foundation: “The Justice Department’s brief creates another cloud of uncertainty for insurers, just as they’re filing proposed ACA rates for 2019. When insurance companies face uncertainty, they increase premiums.” “The Trump administration is arguing in court that the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be thrown out. The Justice Department’s brief creates another cloud of uncertainty for insurers, just as they’re filing proposed ACA rates for 2019. When insurance companies face uncertainty, they increase premiums…27% of non-elderly adults have pre-existing conditions. Arguing in court that protections for them should be eliminated, as the Trump administration is now doing, could provoke a backlash in an election year.” [Larry Levitt, 6/7/18]

Andy Slavitt, Former Director Of Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services: “The Biggest Health Care News of the Year.” “BREAKING: The biggest health care news of the year. The Trump DOJ tonight just told the courts to dismantle pre-existing conditions protections and other consumer protections. This may seem predictable, but these actions are unprecedented.” [Andy Slavitt, 6/7/18]

Nicholas Bagley, Health Law Professor at University of Michigan: “I’m at a loss for words to explain how big of a deal this is.” “This is an enormous blow to the integrity of DOJ…I am at a loss for words to explain how big of a deal this is. The Justice Department has a durable, longstanding, bipartisan commitment to defending the law when non-frivolous arguments can be made in its defense. This brief torches that commitment.” [Nicholas Bagley, 6/7/18]

Sam Berger, Senior Advisor At Center For American Progress: DOJ Wants To Take Health Care Away From Those With Pre-Existing Conditions. “For those who don’t have time to read the DOJ brief, a quick summary of the argument: ‘We want to take away health care from people with pre-existing conditions and are willing to make patently absurd legal arguments to do so.’ DOJ’s argument was so inconsistent with the law, that career lawyers actually asked the court to remove them from the case, so that they would not have to be associated with it. That almost never happens, and tells you how terrible DOJ’s legal argument is.” [Sam Berger, 6/7/18]

Topher Spiro, Vice President For Health Policy At Center For American Progress: “This Is A Political Attack On The ACA And People With Pre-Existing Conditions.” “Three respected career DOJ attorneys withdrew from the case in protest just before this brief was filed. That tells you how politicized this is. This is a political attack on the ACA and people with pre-existing conditions.” [Topher Spiro, 6/7/18]

Andy Slavitt, Former Director Of Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services: “Collusion Between Conservative Plaintiffs And The ‘Defense’ Would Make Pre-Existing Protections And Age Rating Protections Unconstitutional.” “The DOJ, responsible for upholding the rule of law, is not defending the people in a frivolous lawsuit to say that without the mandate, the rest of the ACA can’t be enforced. This collusion between the conservative plaintiffs and the “defense” would make pre-ex protections and age rating protections unconstitutional. In an active of savage cynicism, the Trump Administration doesn’t want this to go into effect until after the election.” [Andy Slavitt, 6/7/18]

Sam Baker, Health Reporter At Axios: “Sick People Would Just Be Out.” “If DOJ gets its way here, insurers would be free to deny people coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Forget complicated market interactions — sick people would just be out.” [Sam Baker, 6/7/18]

Matthew Yglesias, Co-founder Of Vox: “Good Reminder Of The Real Stakes In The Midterms.” “Good reminder of the real stakes in the midterms; if Republicans do well, they will try as hard as they can to take people’s health care away.” [Matthew Yglesias, 6/7/18]

Gambling With Kids’ Coverage A New Lowlight in 210 House Republicans’ War on Health Care

After 210 House Republicans voted to slash $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to patch up record deficits being inflicted by the tax breaks they gave to big corporations, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Until recently, the CHIP program earned broad bipartisan support; after all, what kind of person would oppose health care for children? Then, Donald Trump decided to make kids’ health coverage a political football, proposing billions of dollars in cuts, which over 500 prominent national and local organizations oppose. Tonight, 210 House Republicans voted to cut CHIP anyway, selling out thousands of kids in their districts. Republicans are right to fear Americans’ wrath over their irresponsible tax bill, which blew a $1.3 trillion hole in the deficit, but gambling with kids’ coverage to pay for tax breaks is a new lowlight in Republicans’ war on our care.”


Experts Slam CHIP Cuts

Lisa Shapiro, Families USA: “Contrary to the title of the bill and statements from the Trump administration and Republican leadership, the CHIP Contingency Fund is neither expired nor unnecessary. It is exactly what the name says it is: a contingency fund that was created to ensure stability in CHIP and to provide flexibility for states to protect their children.” [6.7.18]

Bruce Lesley, First Focus: “It is critically important to understand that CHIP is financed with a block grant, and therefore, it fails to adjust for economic recessions, epidemics, medical inflation, or natural disasters which all threaten the health of children. Consequently, in the program’s early years, states repeatedly faced funding shortfalls and responded by imposing waiting lists and enrollment freezes upon children without regard to their health status or medical condition. In recognition of the fact that waiting periods and enrollment freezes threatened the lives and well-being of children, Congress revamped CHIP’s financing in a number of ways, including the creation of the Child Enrollment Contingency Fund in 2009.” [5.25.18]