Monthly Archives

July 2018

Trump Administration Ignores 98 Percent of Health Experts, Greenlights Junk Insurance Plans

This is the GOP’s Fifth Act of Sabotage In the Past Week Alone

Washington, D.C. – In response to the Trump Administration’s final rule bringing short-term, junk plans back to consumers, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement:

“Today’s announcement is nothing more than the Trump Administration’s and Republicans latest attack on our health care, taking its summer of sabotage to a new level and once again leaving Americans holding the bill. Coming on the heels of the GOP pushing forward a lawsuit to end the protections Americans depend upon under the Affordable Care Act, including those for the 130 million people with pre-existing conditions, this rule will let insurance companies with billions in profits once again take Americans’ hard-earned money while drastically limiting coverage. Short term junk plans don’t cover people with pre-existing conditions, don’t include coverage for basic medical needs like prescription drugs, and refuse to pay benefits when a legitimate medical emergency arises. The Trump Administration and its Republican allies in Congress want to give insurance companies the power to deny coverage based on the flimsiest excuse, and this rule does just that. The public knows better than to fall for this charade.”

Today’s announcement is the fifth act of sabotage the Trump Administration and its GOP allies have undertaken in the past week alone. In the past seven days:

  1. The Trump Administration and twenty GOP attorneys general and governors pushed forward their lawsuit in an attempt to strike down protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  2. Not a single Republican Senator or House Member joined the Democratic resolutions authorizing the legislative chambers’ legal counsel to go to court and defend these protections.
  3. House Republicans went home after doing nothing to lower premiums or protect the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  4. New Jersey became the 25th state to see its projected premiums rise due to GOP actions. In fact, new data shows Americans will spend $3,000 more per year for marketplace coverage this year.
  5. Now, short term “junk plans could be back on the market.

Read more about this Summer of Sabotage here, and read about all the ways the Trump Administration has sabotaged health care over the past 18 months here.

ABOUT SHORT TERM JUNK PLANS:

  • 335 of 340 health groups, 98 percent of those that submitted comments to HHS, criticized the proposed rule.
  • Short-term junk plans can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions, affecting 130 million Americans and one in four children.
  • Short-term junk plans can refuse to cover essential health benefits, including maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health care, and preventive care.
  • Short-term junk plans can impose annual and lifetime limits.
  • Short-term junk plans can leave members facing “major, unpredictable financial risk,” with out-of-pocket maximums as high as $20,000 for just three months of coverage.
  • Short-term junk plans can retroactively cancel coverage after patients file claims.

For more information on short term junk plans, view our fact sheet.

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GOP Continues Its Court Case to Overturn Protections for People with Pre-Existing Conditions

Case Highlights #WhatsAtStake with Kavanaugh’s Nomination to Supreme Court

Case Continues In Spite of Overwhelming and Growing Opposition from the Public

Washington, D.C. – Late last night, the Trump-GOP lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) advanced in the District Court, having been fully briefed by all parties. This means a judge could soon rule to overturn the ACA, including its protections for the 130 million Americans living with pre-existing conditions. Twenty Republican state attorneys general and governors and the Trump Administration press on with this case, Texas v. HHS, despite overwhelming opposition from the public at large, as well as state and national health care experts.      

“What the Republicans told the court is exceptional: They have doubled down on their request for a preliminary injunction invalidating the entire Affordable Care Act, and all protections and regulations related to it. This case is now one step further on its way to its likely ultimate destination: the Supreme Court. The overwhelming majority of Americans are strongly opposed to this outrageous lawsuit, but there’s one individual whose opinion matters more than all of ours right now: Brett Kavanaugh, who has already criticized previous Supreme Court decisions to protect the Affordable Care Act, and whose confirmation to the Supreme Court could mean the end of the health care protections hundreds millions of Americans rely on. A vote for Brett Kavanaugh is a vote to take away America’s health care. Americans from coast to coast will continue to raise their voices and and urge their Senators to stand up against this nomination,” said Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care.

Texas v. HHS Case Background

The dangerous lawsuit filed by 20 Republican state officials in February and joined by the Trump administration in June threatens care and coverage for tens of millions of Americans and would eliminate vital protections that benefit everyone. At risk:

  • Protections for 130 million people with pre-existing conditions when they buy coverage on their own
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs
  • Allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women
  • Limit on out-of-pocket costs
  • Medicaid expansion currently covering 15 million people
  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable
  • Small business tax credits
  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for 10 million people

The Trump-GOP Lawsuit Continues Over Overwhelming Opposition from the Public

  • 94 Percent Of Voters Want Supreme Court To Protect Pre-Existing Conditions. A new poll released this week from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund was released found that 94 percent of voters want the Supreme Court to uphold protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • 64 Percent Of Voters Don’t Want Supreme Court To Overturn Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions. Kaiser’s July tracking poll found that 64 percent of voters do not want the Supreme Court to overturn protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including 71 percent of Independents.
  • Two-Thirds Of Voters Disapprove Of Trump Justice Department’s Actions To Overturn Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions. When asked in a Hart Research poll about the Trump Justice Department’s decision to take to court to argue against protections for people with pre-existing conditions, two-thirds of voters voiced their disapproval.

The Trump-GOP  Lawsuit Continues Over Opposition from Local Health Care Advocates

  • In Alaska, on behalf of the 326,000 Alaskans with pre-existing conditions, State Senators Berta Gardner, Ivy Spohnholz, Bill Wielechowski, Scott Kawasaki, Dennis Egan, Harriet Drummond, and Tom Begich sent a letter to Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, asking her to drop Alaska from the lawsuit and defend the protections for the Alaskans who depend on them.
  • In Arizona, on behalf of the 2.8 million Arizonans with pre-existing conditions, Rep. Ruben Gallego signed a letter to Attorney General Mark Brnovich, urging him to immediately withdraw Arizona from the lawsuit and instead work to ensure that Arizonans are able to obtain affordable, comprehensive coverage.
  • In Indiana, on behalf of the 2.7 million Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions, health care advocates from across the state delivered letters and a petition to Attorney General Curtis Hill, urging him to remove drop Indiana from the lawsuit and instead work to protect the millions of Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions. “Indiana doesn’t have to – and shouldn’t be – part of this shameful sabotage. The lives of Hoosiers are at stake,” said Protect Our Care Indiana Spokeswoman Kate Shepherd.
  • In Maine, on behalf of the 548,000 Mainers with pre-existing conditions, Protect Our Care Maine, National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the Maine Women’s Lobby and other organizations signed a letter urging Gov. Paul LePage to remove himself from the lawsuit and instead start working to protect Mainers’ care.
  • In Nevada, on behalf of the 1.2 million Nevadans with pre-existing conditions, more than thirty elected officials, including state senators, assemblymembers, Clark County commissioners, and city council members from Las Vegas, Henderson City, North Las Vegas, and Reno signed a letter to Attorney General Adam Laxalt, urging him to drop Nevada from the lawsuit and instead work to protect  the Nevadans who depend on the care these protections provide.
  • In North Dakota, on behalf of the 316,000 North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions, protesters protested Vice President Mike Pence and s Attorney General Wayne Stenjam’s backing of the GOP lawsuit seeking to overturn benefits for North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions.
  • In Ohio, on behalf of the 4.8 million Ohioans with pre-existing conditions, 25 elected officials from across the state, including Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, the Columbus City Council, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, and the Dayton City Commission, including Mayor Nan Whaley, signed letters asking Attorney General Mike DeWine to drop Ohio from the lawsuit and instead support the protections for Ohioans.
  • In Tennessee, on behalf of the 2.7 million Tennesseans with pre-existing conditions, more than 900 Tennesseans signed a letter to Attorney General General Herbert Slatery III calling on him to drop Tennessee from the lawsuit and instead work to support the Tennesseans who depend on these protections for pre-existing conditions.
  • In West Virginia, on behalf of the 738,000 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions, 23 groups, including West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, the West Virginia Citizen Action Group, and the West Virginia AFL-CIO, signed a letter to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey  and Governor Jim Justice, calling on them to drop West Virginia from the lawsuit and instead work to support the hundreds of thousands of West Virginians with pre-existing conditions.

The Trump-GOP Lawsuit  Continues Over Opposition from Health Care Providers and Experts

  • American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American DIabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and National Multiple Sclerosis Society: “Striking Down These Provisions Would Be Catastrophic And Have Dire Consequences For Many Patients With Serious Illnesses.” Invalidating the ACA in whole or in part “would be devastating for the millions of Americans who suffer from serious illness or have preexisting conditions and rely on those protections under current law to obtain life-saving health care. If either the plaintiffs’ or the administration’s position were adopted by the court, people with serious illness are likely to be denied coverage due to their preexisting 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. Striking down these provisions would be catastrophic and have dire consequences for many patients with serious illnesses.” [American Cancer Society et. al, 6/14/18]
  • American Medical Association, The American Academy of Family Physicians, The American College of Physicians, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: “​Invalidating The Guaranteed-issue And Community Rating Provisions—or The ​entire A​CA—would Have A Devastating Impact On Doctors, Patients, And The American Health Care System As A Whole.” “Congress declined to do what the Plaintiffs ask this Court to do for a reason: the consequences of repealing the ACA would be staggering…Plaintiffs’ proposed remedies . . . would strip health care from tens of millions of Americans who depend on the ACA; produce skyrocketing insurance costs; and sow chaos in the nation’s health care system​…The ACA’s ‘nationwide protections for Americans with pre-existing health conditions’ has played a ‘key role’ in allowing 3.6 million people to obtain affordable health insurance. Severing those vital insurance reforms would leave millions without much-needed insurance.” [AMA et. al, 6/14/18]
  • American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, The Catholic Health Association of the United States, and Association of American Medical Colleges: “A judicial repeal would have severe consequences for America’s hospitals, which would be forced to shoulder the greater uncompensated-care burden that the ACA’s repeal would create.” The relief sought by Texas and its allies “would have devastating consequences, kicking millions of Americans off of coverage and inflicting on them all the harms that come with being uninsured. These harms would fall on the low-income families least able to cope with them. ​And a judicial repeal would have severe consequences for America’s hospitals, which would be forced to shoulder the greater uncompensated-care burden that the ACA’s repeal would create.” [American Hospital Association et. al, 6/14/18]
  • Public Health Scholars and the American Public Health Association: “The Foreseeable Public Health Consequences Of The Injunction Are Nothing Short of Catastrophic.” “Without the ACA, the health of millions of Americans would be harmed. Consider the grim analyses of proposed legislation partially repealing the ACA: In 2017, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) assessed the impact of a bill partially repealing the ACA and found (among other things) that it would, in “the first new plan year following enactment of the bill” alone, increase the number of uninsured Americans by 18 million. That number would grow to 27 million after the “year following the elimination of the Medicaid expansion,” and then to 32 million by 2026. Still more is at stake here: Unlike the injunctive relief plaintiffs seek, the bill analyzed by CBO would have staggered its partial repeal of the ACA to avoid catastrophic results. Here, plaintiffs ask the Court to eliminate, as preliminary injunctive relief, a complex statute in its eighth year of implementation—a statute whose repeal through democratic means has been attempted innumerable times but has never succeeded.” [Public Health Scholars et. al, 6/14/18]
  • AARP: Before ACA’s Protections, Discrimination Against Those With Pre-Existing Conditions, Age Rating, And Annual And Lifetime Caps Made Accessing Health Care Out Of Reach For Older Adults. “Uninsured pre-Medicare adults faced nearly insurmountable challenges to securing insurance because they were denied coverage based on preexisting conditions or offered costly policies that excluded coverage for needed care. Even without preexisting conditions, insurance premiums for older adults were as much as 11 times greater than their younger counterparts solely based on their age. Even a healthy person who was age 50 to 64 with no preexisting conditions faced markedly higher insurance premium rates than a younger person. Age rating put the cost of insurance out of reach for many pre-Medicare adults. Annual and lifetime caps—which were easily exceeded by treatment for a single illness such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes—meant that many older adults either went without treatment until they became eligible for Medicare or incurred financially ruinous medical debt.” [AARP, 6/14/18]

 

 

 

Five Ways the Trump Administration is Dismantling Medicaid and Medicare

Today marks the 53rd anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare, two crucial health programs that serve as a lifeline to more than one-third of Americans. Despite the essential health care services these programs provide 125 million people, President Trump and Congressional Republicans have worked to dismantle Medicaid and Medicare. Here’s how:

  1. As the cost of drugs skyrocket, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress will not allow Medicare to negotiate for better prescription drug prices. Under current law, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is explicitly prohibited from negotiating directly with drug manufacturers on behalf of Medicare Part D enrollees. Although it would decrease both federal spending and beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, a policy allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries was noticeably absent from President Trump’s recent prescription drug announcement.

  2. President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have repeatedly tried to slash funding for Medicaid and impose per-capita caps on coverage. Last year, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) repeal bill, which included a per capita limit on federal Medicaid spending that would have resulted in huge cuts to Medicaid across states. After failing to pass the AHCA in the Senate, Republicans have continued to launch relentless attacks on Medicaid. Last December, the Trump Administration budget called for $1.4 trillion in cuts to Medicaid.

  3. The Trump Administration is encouraging states to impose work requirements and other bureaucratic restrictions on Medicaid enrollment in order to deny coverage. Experts warn that work requirements are fundamentally bureaucratic hurdles designed to restrict access to health care rather than increase employment. Previous examples show that requiring enrollees verify their employment or work-related activities will reduce enrollment among those eligible for Medicaid.

    Requiring people to work to maintain Medicaid coverage is particularly burdensome for older adults. Less than half of American adults ages 55 to 64 work. Some are retired, and for many others, chronic health conditions make it difficult to maintain steady employment.

  4. President Trump and Congressional Republicans are targeting Medicaid to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest. Last December, President Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill that disproportionately benefits the wealthy. How do Republicans plan on paying for it? Speaker Ryan’s answer is clear: “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt.” In an attempt to pay for these tax cuts, in April, House Republicans passed a budget amendment that would slash Medicaid funding by $114 billion in a single year alone.

  5. Congressional Republicans have also repeatedly voted to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest by cutting funding for Medicare. The 2018 budget resolution passed by Republicans in December 2017 cut Medicare by $473 billion and more recently, the FY2019 budget passed by Republicans on the House Budget Committee cuts Medicare by an additional $537 billion.

As we celebrate this important health care anniversary, Protect Our Care calls on our leaders to protect health care for our most vulnerable and end their assault on the health and wellbeing of the millions of Americans who rely on Medicare and Medicaid.

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NEW POLL: Overwhelming Majority of Americans Support Protections for People With Pre-Existing Conditions

Washington, D.C – This morning, a new poll was released which found that 94 percent of Americans want the Supreme Court to uphold protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement in response:

“More than nine in 10 Americans want the Supreme Court to stay away from Republican efforts to dismantle protections for people with pre-existing conditions, a finding that comes on the heels of last week’s Kaiser poll showing that upholding these protections is the top health care issue for voters. So when the Trump Administration teams up with Republican state attorneys general and governors to overturn protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and then nominates someone to the Supreme Court to side with them in that case, not only are they actively working against the interests of the 130 million Americans who live with pre-existing conditions, they are ignoring the clear and resounding wishes of the American people.”

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

July 2018 –  Kaiser Family Foundation’s July Tracking Poll Confirms That Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions Are The Most Important Health Care Issue To Voters.

  • A Candidate’s Position On Continuing Protections For People With Pre-Existing Health Conditions Is The Top Health Care Campaign Issue For Voters, Among A List Of Issues Provided. “This issue cuts across voter demographics with most Democratic voters (74 percent), independent voters (64 percent), and voters living in battleground areas (61 percent), as well as half of Republican voters (49 percent) saying a candidate’s position on continued protections for pre-existing health conditions is either the single most important factor or a very important factor in their 2018 vote.”
  • Nearly Two Thirds Of Those Polled Do Not Want Supreme Court To Overturn Protections For People With Pre-existing Conditions. “Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) do not want to see the Supreme Court overturn these protections compared to half (52 percent) who do not want to see the Supreme Court overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) more generally.”
  • Almost Six In Ten Americans Say They Think President Trump And His Administration Are Trying To Make The ACA Fail. “Almost six in ten (56 percent) Americans say they think President Trump and his administration are trying to make the ACA fail while one-third (32 percent) say they are trying to make the law work. Most of those who say they think the Trump administration is trying to make the law fail think this is a “bad thing” (47 percent of the public). In addition, most (58 percent) say since President Trump and Republicans in Congress have made changes to the ACA, they are responsible for any problems with it moving forward.”

June 2018 – Kaiser Tracking Poll Also Found That That ACA Protections For Sick Patients Still Overwhelmingly Popular Despite GOP’s Efforts To End Them. Key findings:

  • Health Care Is Top Issue For Voters. 25 percent of voters cited health care as the most important issue to them, compared to the next highest earner, the economy and jobs, which 23 percent of voters said was the most important issue. In total, 79 percent of voters considered health care to be the most important or a very important issue.
  • Candidates’ Continued Support For Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions Is The Single Most Important Health Position For Voters. 14 percent of voters said cited protections for people with pre-existing conditions as the most important factor. 66 percent of voters said it was very important, if not the most important, health care issue to them.
  • Nearly Three Quarters Of Those Polled Said It Was “Very Important” That ACA Provisions Protecting Those With Pre-Existing Conditions Remain Law. 76 percent of voters said it was very important to keep the provision of the ACA that prevents insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history. 72 percent of voters said it was very important to preserve the ACA’s protection against charging sick people more. Majorities of all parties support these protections.
  • Nearly Six In Ten Say Someone In Their Household Has A Pre-Existing Condition. “Nearly six in ten (57 percent) say they or someone in their household suffers from pre-existing medical conditions such asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure.”
  • Half Of The Public Continues To Have A Favorable View Of The Affordable Care Act. “Half of the public continue to hold favorable views of the 2010 health care law, known as the Affordable Care Act. This continues the more than a year-long trend of a larger share of the public viewing the law favorably (50 percent) than unfavorably (41 percent).

June 2018 – Hart Research Poll Finds That 66 Percent Of Voters Disapprove Of Trump Justice Department’s Actions To Overturn Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions. When asked about the Trump Justice Department’s decision to take to court to argue against protections for people with pre-existing conditions, voters polled by Hart Research disapproved by 66 to 34 percent.

One Year After Repeal Defeat, We’re 100 Days from Election Day and Health Care is Still #1

Health Care is Top Issue to Voters, Due to Opposition to GOP Sabotage

Coalition that Defeated Repeal One Year Ago Will #RememberInNovember

Washington, D.C. – One year ago today, the American people made possible what many said was impossible: they defeated the number one legislative priority of Republicans and President Trump dating back seven years, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Now, 100 days from Election Day, health care is still the issue that matters most to voters.

“Here we are, 100 short days from Election Day, and Americans are as strongly opposed Republicans’ attacks on our health care today as they were one year ago. Nevertheless, Republicans are carrying on their repeal-and-sabotage crusade, no matter the consequences for the American people — let alone their own political prospects. Now begins the time Americans work to hold their representatives accountable for the sabotage that’s raising our health care costs and cutting health care for millions,” said Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care.  

This week, Protect Our Care coalitions held events around the country throughout the week to commemorate the hard work that defeated ACA repeal:

In Arizona, health care advocates gathered at Senator John McCain’s office to commemorate the anniversary of his historic “thumbs down” vote against repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

…to highlight #WhatsAtStake for our health if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court:

In Alaska, concerned residents with pre-existing conditions and a faith leader visited Senator Lisa Murkowski’s office to thank her for her vote one year ago to protect their care and urge her to stand up to protect Alaskans’ care again when considering Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

In Maine, health care advocates and residents with pre-existing conditions held a press conference outside the state capitol in Augusta to celebrate the ACA repeal failure one year ago and encourage Senator Susan Collins, who cast one of the consequential votes that helped kill repeal last year, to continue protecting access to affordable health care for all Mainers when considering Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

In Nevada, health care advocates held a press conference to sound the alarm about the extensive campaign the Trump Administration has undertaken to sabotage healthcare, including the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

In Pennsylvania, health care advocates joined local residents with pre-existing conditions at a roundtable discussion about how the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court could harm the 5.3 million Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions.

In Washington, DC, health care advocates and people with pre-existing conditions were joined by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, Debbie Stabenow and Chris Murphy at a press conference to highlight the threat Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination poses to health care, especially for the 130 million Americans living with pre-existing conditions.   

In West Virginia, health care advocates were joined by people with pre-existing conditions at a press conference highlighting ongoing health care sabotage and the threat that Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Court poses for West Virginians.

In Wisconsin, health care advocates and people with pre-existing conditions held a press conference to highlight ongoing health care sabotage and the danger Brett Kavanaugh would pose for Wisconsinites.

… to call on state attorneys general and the Trump Administration to drop their lawsuit to overturn protections in the ACA for women, seniors and people with pre-existing conditions:

Outside Vice President Mike Pence’s closed appearances in North Dakota, health care advocates demonstrated in opposition to the Trump administration and Attorney General Wayne Stenjam’s lawsuit seeking to overturning the Affordable Care Act, as well as Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

In Tennessee, health care advocates and people with pre-existing conditions delivered an open letter to TN Attorney General Herbert Slatery signed by hundreds of Tennesseans, demanding that he drop the lawsuit against the ACA and instead work to protect the care of over 2.7 million Tennesseans with pre-existing condition.

In Indiana, a petition signed by more than 600 Hoosiers asked Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill to withdraw from the federal lawsuit, Texas vs. HHS, which  could dismantle the consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act. Health care advocates held a press conference as they hand-delivered the petition to Attorney General Hill yesterday.

In Missouri, health care advocates held a press conference to spotlight the threat Attorney General Josh Hawley’s lawsuit to overturn health protections in the ACA poses for Missourians, as well as the dangers of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Court.  

…and to be sure that voters will #RememberinNovember:

In Ohio, health care experts and advocates hosted a community forum at the Lima Public Library to discuss what’s at stake for Ohioans’ health care in this year’s midterm election, the importance of protecting the Affordable Care Act and Ohio’s Medicaid expansion, and how the health care law has helped Ohio communities.

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

Washington, D.C. – As preliminary New Jersey rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicated a potential near-double-digit average premium increase 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 New Jersey 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 New Jerseyans.”

From the Insurance Commissioner and Insurance Companies:

Department Of Banking And Insurance: “Policies In Washington Aimed Aimed At Dismantling The Affordable Care Act Have Created Enormous Uncertainty In Insurance Markets Nationwide.” “Policies in Washington aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act have created enormous uncertainty in insurance markets nationwide. The repeal of the individual mandate as part of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has led to requested rate increases in states across the country. The federal government has also advanced rules to permit the sale of short-term limited duration plans and association health plans that do not comply with the ACA, stalled Risk Adjustment Payments to carriers and slashed funding for health care navigators that assist consumers with enrolling in coverage.” [State of New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance, 7/27]

Department Of Banking And Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride: Without State Actions Undertaken To Blunt GOP Sabotage, Rates Would Have Been Even Higher. “Carriers indicated that without the recent enactment of the law to continue an individual mandate in New Jersey, the average requested rate increase would have been 12.6 percent… ‘New Jersey is working aggressively to ensure that residents have access to affordable quality coverage, and actions taken by the state to improve the market are reflected in the rates submitted. Under the leadership of Governor Murphy, New Jersey is leading the nation in its efforts to create stability in the market and to combat the uncertainty created by Washington. Carriers were clear that without state action, the average increase requested in the individual market would have more than doubled,’ said Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride.” [State of New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance, 7/27]

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield: Rate Increases Will Be As High As 9.8 Percent. “The requests from four insurers ranged from 0.8 percent for one of AmeriHealth of New Jersey’s plans to 9.8 percent for one offered by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Two insurers, Oscar and Oxford, are not active in southern New Jersey.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/27]

Why New Jerseyans’ 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 New Jersey forecast near-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.
  • 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.

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 18 percent in New Jersey.

  • 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 Jersey by an average 10.9 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 Jerseyans’ care.

  • 274,782 New Jerseyans signed up for Marketplace coverage this year.
  • Thanks to the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion, New Jersey’s uninsured rate fell by 4.4 percent between 2013 and 2016 as New Jerseyans have gained access to affordable coverage.
  • Before today’s announcement, the Urban Institute predicted that New Jersey premiums for 2019 could rise 10.9 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 77 percent of New Jersey Marketplace consumers, whose average 2018 premium is $157 per month.
  • But because of the Republican sabotage agenda, many middle-income New Jerseyans could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more than they would have otherwise.

New Jerseyans 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: Trump 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]

One Year Later, We Remember

Washington, D.C. – One year ago, a bipartisan majority defeated the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in the Senate. It was one of the first wins of the resistance and most defining moments of the Trump presidency. But the GOP has not stopped its attempts to sabotage our care – and we are all taking note.

Reporters remember:

Jeffrey Young, Huffington Post:

Jonathan Cohn, Huffington Post:

Steven Dennis, Bloomberg:

Dylan Scott, Vox:

Health Care experts remember:

Topher Spiro with the Center for American Progress:

Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:

Charles Gaba, independent health care analyst:

Senators remember:

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR):

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI):

Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ):

Health care activists remember:

Little Lobbyists:

Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

Health Care Voter:

And the public definitely remembers:

SHOT/CHASER: President Trump Doubles Down on Absurd Claims About Non-Existent Health Care Plans

During remarks given yesterday in Iowa and again today at the White House, President Donald Trump touted his junk association health plans (AHPs). There were just a few problems:

SHOT:  

Trump:  Association Health Plans Are Doing “Record Business.”  “Alex Acosta has come up with incredible healthcare plans through the Department of Labor — association plans where you associate, where you have groups and you get tremendous healthcare at a very small cost.  And it’s across state lines; you can compete all over the country. They compete. They want to get it. And, Alex, I hear it’s like record business that they’re doing. We just opened about two months ago, and I’m hearing that the numbers are incredible.  Numbers of people that are getting really, really good healthcare instead of Obamacare, which is a disaster.” [Donald Trump, Remarks at Workforce Development Roundtable, Peosta, IA, 7/26/18]

Trump Said “Associated Health Plans” Have “Just Opened” And “Millions Of People Are Going To Be Signing Up.”  “Through associated health plans we are giving Americans the ability — just opened — millions of people are going to be signing up. Millions and millions. Much better and more affordable healthcare, including bidding across state lines.” [Donald Trump, Press Availability, Washington, DC, 7/27/18]

CHASER:  

Association health plans won’t even go on sale until September and they’re already being described as “kind of a flop” as major associations decline to participate and 11 states filed suit to challenge the rule for undermining the protections of the Affordable Care Act.

HEADLINE:  “Trump Touts Demand For Healthcare Plans That Don’t Exist Yet.” [Washington Examiner, 7/27/18]

HEADLINE:  “Trump Celebrates ‘Record’ Sales of Nonexistent Health Insurance Policies” [Huffington Post, 7/27/18]

HEADLINE:  “States Sue Trump Administration Over Association Health Plans”  [Politico, 7/27/18]

HEADLINE:  “Trump Says New Health Plans, Not Available Until September, Already Doing ‘record Business’” [The Hill, 7/26/18]

HEADLINE:  “Trump’s Association Health Plans Are Kind Of A Flop” [Vox, 7/20/18]

HEADLINE:  “Trump Promised Them Better, Cheaper Health Care. It’s Not Happening.”  [Politico, 7/19/18]

Republicans At All Levels Face Fury from Their Constituents as the Coalition that Defeated Health Care Repeal Takes the Fight Local

As we head into the one-year anniversary of the Senate’s defeat of ACA repeal, Republicans are running scared of their own record, especially as Big Health Care CEO compensation soars on their watch.

Meanwhile, the coalition that defeated health care repeal is rising up to fight GOP sabotage at every level of government.

  • For a full month, Protect Our Care and its partners have continually sounded the alarm about Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, who is now opposed by 41 percent of Americans, the vast majority of whom do not want the Court to overturn protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • All week, the Protect Our Care coalition held events marking the anniversary of the Senate defeating repeal and highlighting continued threats to health care, and today Protect Our Care coalitions in Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia are holding actions to ask their Republican attorneys general and governors to drop their lawsuit to overturn protections for people with pre-existing conditions in the Affordable Care Act.
  • Looking ahead to August, Protect Our Care coalitions across the country are gearing up to confront House Republicans during recess about the numerous votes they have taken to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions, jack up premiums, reduce coverage, and give kickbacks to insurance companies, drug companies, and the wealthy – while doing nothing to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.

With an energized grassroots representing the will of the public, according to poll after poll after poll after poll, it’s no wonder why Democrats are rising up to fight for health care. Just yesterday:

  1. Senate Democrats redoubled their commitment to fight tooth-and-nail to protect health care for all Americans, while marking the one-year anniversary of their defeat of Republicans’ effort to repeal the ACA.
  2. House Democrats introduced a resolution that would intervene to protect the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions from the GOP-Trump Administration lawsuit working to overturn protections for them.
  3. A coalition of 12 Democratic attorneys general filed a lawsuit to fight back against the Trump Administration’s revival of junk plans that charge money for poor coverage.

###

This Week in the War on Health Care: Repeal Defeat Anniversary Edition

One year ago, health care repeal was defeated. It was defeated because of the individuals across the country, from Alaska to Maine, who went to town halls and parades and protests to make their voices heard. It was defeated because of the numerous people with different backgrounds, from children with pre-existing conditions to seniors with disabilities, who traveled thousands of miles to the U.S. Capitol to make sure their representatives would listen to them. It was defeated because of the never-ending work done by everyday Americans who refused to let their care be taken away. And today, the health care fight is as urgent and energized as ever.

Health care is a top issue for voters, who are overwhelmingly backing Democrats on the issue:

Washington Post: Health Care Among Top Issues Motivating Voters, A “Clear Advantage” For Democrats. “Three months from the midterm elections, health care remains a gaping political vulnerability for the GOP… Recent polls have shown that health care is one of the top issues motivating voters, alongside jobs and the economy. A Washington Post-Schar School poll in July found that Democrats have a clear advantage among those voters who cite health care as their most important issue, and a Pew Foundation poll in June found that voters trust Democrats over Republicans on the issue by a 16-point margin.” [Washington Post, 7/25/18]

Kaiser Family Foundation: Protecting People With Pre-Existing Conditions Top Health Care Priority, Public Overwhelmingly Opposes Supreme Court Overturning Them. “A candidate’s position on continuing protections for people with pre-existing health conditions is the top health care campaign issue for voters, among a list of issues provided. This issue cuts across voter demographics with most Democratic voters (74 percent), independent voters (64 percent), and voters living in battleground areas (61 percent), as well as half of Republican voters (49 percent) saying a candidate’s position on continued protections for pre-existing health conditions is either the single most important factor or a very important factor in their 2018 vote. When it comes to the Supreme Court and possible future court cases, once again, continued protections for people with pre-existing conditions weighs heavy on the minds of the public. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) do not want to see the Supreme Court overturn these protections.” [KFF, 7/25/18]

Forbes: Pre-Existing Condition Poll “Another Sign Of Mounting Political Problems For Republicans.” “By a 2-to-1 margin, U.S. voters disapprove of the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to support a lawsuit that would eliminate popular protections for patients with preexisting conditions under the Affordable Care Act, a new poll shows. The survey of likely voters by Hart Research Associates is another sign of mounting political problems for Republicans heading into the November mid-term elections, putting GOP candidates on the defensive for the Trump DOJ’s decision not to defend one of the most popular features of the ACA.” [Forbes, 6/24/18]

It’s a centerpiece of the Supreme Court fight:

Vox: The Fate Of The ACA Could Turn On Judge Kavanaugh’s Appointment. “The fate of the Affordable Care Act may hinge on the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court — as Democrats have rightly been pointing out. But supporters of the health care law, if anything, underestimate the dangers to the law posed by conservative legal challenges and a rightward shift on the Court. Aspects of Kavanaugh’s jurisprudence as it relates to health care, especially his views about executive power, raise concerns that deserve more attention than they have been given so far —particularly because the president and his agencies have been using their powers to sabotage the ACA for more than a year. One highly politicized challenge to the ACA coming out of Texas has indeed received a lot of attention: It turns on the question of whether the entire health care law should be struck down now that Congress has eliminated the ACA’s penalty for failing to comply with the so-called ‘individual mandate’ to buy health insurance under the law. But the ACA is under attack on multiple legal fronts; anyone concerned needs to focus on more than just Texas. Taken together, these challenges threaten to end the ACA’s essential protections, including a minimum level of care for all and guaranteed access to quality health care regardless of preexisting conditions.” [Vox, 7/23/18]

Washington Post: Brett Kavanaugh Could Take An Ax To Obamacare. Kavanaugh is a polarizing figure in the health-care debate. Among the things that distinguish him from the other finalists on Trump’s list is his expansive view of executive power — he argued that a president could decline to enforce a statute such as Obamacare even if a court upholds its constitutionality — and his dissent in a 2011 case in which others on his appellate court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act… In the long run, Kavanaugh could shape jurisprudence for decades on abortion, gay rights, voting rights, money in politics, guns, presidential authority and more. But his most immediate impact could be on health care.” [Washington Post, 7/9/18]

USA Today: Brett Kavanaugh Could Deal Death Blow To Obamacare. “With the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump has now engaged all three branches of government in his fight to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and protections for people with pre-existing health conditions. Kavanaugh made clear last year in a speech at the Heritage Foundation that he thinks the court was wrong to uphold the ACA’s insurance mandate as constitutional. He has also said a president should be allowed to not enforce components of a law if he personally deems it unconstitutional (encouragement this president doesn’t need). There couldn’t be a more in-your-face threat to the ACA than from a Justice Kavanaugh.” [USA Today, 7/14/18]

It’s a driving force behind campaigns from coast to coast:

USA Today: Democratic Candidates Running On Health Care After GOP Attempts To Repeal Obamacare. “In one online ad, Democratic House candidate Angie Craig of Minnesota blasts GOP Rep. Jason Lewis for voting ‘to dramatically increase the cost of insurance and kick millions off health care.’ Rep. Jacky Rosen, a Democratic Senate candidate from Nevada, in another ad, highlights Sen. Dean Heller’s pledge to oppose a Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, before ultimately backing the effort under pressure from President Trump. And Democratic House candidate Antonio Delgado of New York has an ad that points to GOP Rep. John Faso’s vote for repealing the ACA, known as Obamacare, after promising a woman with a brain tumor on video that he would not take away her health care… After years of playing defense on health care, Democratic candidates have made it a top issue this election cycle.” [USA Today, 5/2/18]

Seattle Times: “Her Experience [Over Repeal] Led Her To Do Something She’d Never Dreamed Of: Run For Congress.” “Last spring, Issaquah pediatrician Kim Schrier joined three other Virginia Mason doctors for a meeting with an aide to U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn. On their minds: a Republican health-care bill aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. At Reichert’s Issaquah district office, Schrier and her colleagues argued against the GOP plan, pointing to estimates it would chop health-care access for tens of thousands of people in the 8th Congressional District… Within a week or so, Reichert voted to pass the health-care overhaul out of the House Ways and Means Committee. He later voted against the final version, but only after it was clear Republicans had enough votes to pass it without him. Her experience with Reichert led Schrier to do something she’d never dreamed of: run for Congress against a seven-term incumbent.” [Seattle Times, 7/26/18]

  • Kim Schrier, “If Congress Was Doing Its Job, I Would Not Have To Run For Office.” “‘I was ticked off. Frankly, if Congress was doing its job, I would not have to run for office. I would be back holding little babies. But times have changed,’ Schrier told volunteers at her campaign headquarters in Issaquah this month.” [Seattle Times, 7/26/18]

Bristol Herald Courier: “The Health Care Discussion Spurred Him Into Action.” “Dr. Marty Olsen was listening to the radio in 2017, when the health care debate was raging across the country. The discussion centered on repealing the Affordable Care Act. He had been contemplating what he could do to help take the country in a different direction. The health care discussion spurred him into action. ‘I recognized that my congressman was a physician who was going to vote to move 22 million people off their health care rolls, and these were the people I take care of,’ he said, referring to U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, a retired physician. ‘I said, ‘Well, that’s wrong.’ And so, I just thought, ‘If you think it’s wrong, then go do something.’’ So the 59-year-old obstetrician/gynecologist decided to throw his hat in the race for the 1st District U.S. House seat.” [Bristol Herald Courier, 7/24/18]

And it’s not going away anytime soon:

Washington Post: Why Health Care Is Making Republicans’ Challenge In November Even Harder. “Unlike many issues, with health care, Democrats can make a persuasive argument no matter to whom they are talking. To their own base, they can say, ‘Republicans tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take away Medicaid from millions, and now they want to do even more to take away health security.’ And to swing voters, they can say, ‘Look what Republicans have done to you. Your premiums keep going up, your out-of pocket costs keep going up, and now the Trump administration even wants to take away protections for people with preexisting conditions. They said they’d fix everything, and they failed.’ Both arguments are correct. And in October, premium rates for 2019 will be announced, leading to a wave of stories about rising health-care costs.” [Washington Post, 7/19/18]