Monthly Archives

July 2018

Senate Democrats Pressure GOP To Oppose Trump’s Pre-existing Strikedown Lawsuit

Put Up, or Shut Up Time for Senate Republicans on Most Popular Provision of Health Care Law

In June, President Trump’s Department of Justice announced that it would go to court in support of a lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Yesterday, Senate Democrats, including Joe Manchin (WV), Claire McCaskill (MO), Bob Casey (PA), Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Jon Tester (MT), Sherrod Brown (OH) and Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), fought back by introducing a resolution that would authorize the Senate to step up to defend protections for pre-existing conditions in court.  While all 49 Senate Democrats sponsored the resolution, not a single Republican has signed on despite many paying lip service to the importance of protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Here’s how it was covered:

The Hill: Dems Pressure GOP To Take Legal Action Supporting Pre-Existing Conditions. “Senate Democrats are targeting Republicans on health care, urging them to sign on to a resolution that would allow the Senate to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the legality of ObamaCare. The resolution, introduced Thursday, would allow the Office of Senate Legal Counsel to intervene in a case brought by Republican attorneys general that argues ObamaCare is now unconstitutional since Congress repealed the 2010 law’s individual mandate last year.” [The Hill, 7/19/18]

WV MetroNews: Manchin Leads Democrats On Resolution Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions Coverage. “Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced a resolution Thursday asking for the Senate Legal Counsel to represent the legislative chamber in Texas v. United States — a lawsuit involving West Virginia and 19 other states — in defense of “Obamacare” and its provisions, specifically the guarantee of health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions…Manchin said 800,000 West Virginians would be at risk of losing insurance coverage if protections for pre-existing conditions were eliminated.” [WV MetroNews, 7/19/18]

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: McCaskill Co-Sponsors Senate Move To Oppose Hawley Backed Lawsuit Challenging Obamacare. “Sen. Claire McCaskill is co-sponsoring a resolution that would direct Senate lawyers to defend against a lawsuit trying to kill the Affordable Care Act, a move that has virtually no chance of passing but highlights the great divide between her and Attorney General Josh Hawley on a key issue in Missouri’s nationally watched Senate race. McCaskill, D-Mo., along with Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Thursday they would introduce the resolution.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 7/19/18]

WBIW: Donnelly Continues To Fight To Protect Hoosiers with Pre-Existing Conditions. “U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly continued his fight for quality, affordable health care coverage for Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions by joining a resolution that would allow the Senate’s Legal Counsel to represent the Senate in Texas v. United States. This would enable the Senate to defend protections for Americans with pre-existing condition against the current lawsuit seeking to make this provision unconstitutional.” [WBIW, 7/20/18]

Newsmax: “Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and a cadre of Democrats are taking steps to protect the healthcare coverage of millions of Americans with preexisting conditions.” “Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and a cadre of Democrats are taking steps to protect the healthcare coverage of millions of Americans with preexisting conditions. Nelson et al filed a resolution Thursday authorizing the Senate Legal Counsel to take up defense of a federal lawsuit, Texas v. United States, which would undo protections for those with preexisting conditions.” [Newsmax, 7/20/18]

Roll Call: Democrats Push Senate To Take Legal Action Backing Pre-existing Condition Protections. “Democratic senators want the chamber to go to court to defend health insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions…Manchin and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., are among those leading the introduction of a Senate resolution that would authorize the Senate to take legal action to intervene in litigation led by Texas that could undercut the protections on the health insurance exchanges and in the broader market. Morrisey and Hawley have signed on to the lawsuit, so it is no surprise that the Democratic Senate incumbents they’re challenging in 2018 would take the lead on the new legislative effort.” [Roll Call, 7/19/18]

Washington Examiner: “Senate Democrats Want To Intervene In A Lawsuit That Would End Obamacare’s Protections For Pre-existing Conditions.” “Senate Democrats want to intervene in a lawsuit that would end Obamacare’s protections for pre-existing conditions after the Trump administration declined to defend the healthcare law. A group of Democratic senators introduced a resolution on Thursday that would have the Senate intervene in a lawsuit brought by Texas and 19 other states against Obamacare. The lawsuit would gut the law’s protections for pre-existing conditions.” [Washington Examiner, 7/19/18]

Washington Times: Senate Democrats Offer Resolution To Protect Obamacare. “All 49 members of the Democratic caucus signed onto a resolution that would compel the Senate’s Office of Legal Counsel to intervene in the case, effectively daring the GOP to choose between President Trump’s hands-off position or a spirited defense of the most popular parts of the 2010 health care law, as the midterm campaign season heats up.” [Washington Times, 7/19/18]

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

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

“For the past year and a half, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have engaged in a deliberate, aggressive campaign to undermine health care and now families in Connecticut 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 Nutmeggers.”

From the Insurance Commissioner and Insurance Companies:

Katharine Wade, Connecticut Insurance Commissioner: Ongoing Uncertainty In Washington Is Of Concern. “Of concern, however, is the ongoing uncertainty in Washington that threatens to destabilize the health insurance markets, particularly for individuals. The Department is pressing for clarity and guidance from the federal government so that we can finalize the rates for 2019.” [Connecticut Insurance Department, 7/20/18]

ConnectiCare: End Of Individual Mandate Increases Costs. “The individual mandate penalty has been reduced to zero for years after 2018…Without such a mandate, individuals – typically younger and healthier – do not participate in the insurance pool to the extent they would if the mandate were in force. This lack of participation increases the cost of the insurance pool.” [ConnectiCare, 7/16/18]

In Light Of Federal Uncertainty, ConnectiCare Reserves The Right To Withdraw Products From Market And Further Increase Rates. “In light of current legislative efforts at the federal level, and the ongoing litigation over CSR payments and Risk Transfer payment, the federal and state regulatory environment has been and remains fluid. Given the uncertainties of the current regulatory environment, CBI reserves the right to withdraw its products from the individual market or request a change to all, or any portion, of these rate filings.” [ConnectiCare, 7/16/18]

Why Nutmeggers’ 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 Connecticut 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.
  • 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 Connecticut, no short-term plans available have to cover maternity care, and only 60 percent of plans cover prescription drugs.

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

  • 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 Connecticut by an average 16.5 percent this fall, according to a recent Urban Institute study.
  • This sabotage-driven rate hike will make the damage Republicans inflicted last year through repeal attempts and sabotage even worse.
  • Higher premiums will mean fewer working families can afford coverage: during the first year of the Trump Administration, millions more Americans joined the ranks of the uninsured – the highest increase since Gallup started tracking the uninsured rate.

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

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

Nutmeggers 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.

 

Despite Republican Sabotage, the Affordable Care Act Has Improved Nutmeggers’ Care.

  • 114,134 Nutmeggers signed up for Marketplace coverage this year.
  • Thanks to the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion, Connecticut’s uninsured rate fell by 4.6 percent between 2013 and 2016 as Nutmeggers have gained access to affordable coverage.
  • Before today’s announcement, the Urban Institute predicted that Connecticut premiums for 2019 could rise 16.5 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 73 percent of Connecticut Marketplace consumers, whose average 2018 premium is $125 per month.
  • But because of the Republican sabotage agenda, many middle-income Nutmeggers could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more than they would have otherwise.

KEY QUOTES

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]

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]

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]

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]

House Republicans Push Meaningless ‘Health Care’ Bills Ahead of Recess

House To Consider Package of Legislation that Fix None of the Health Care Problems They’ve Created, While Giving More Tax Cuts to the Wealthy

 

Washington, DC – Following the announcement from Leader Kevin McCarthy that next week will be “health care week” in the chamber that gloated about repealing protections for people with pre-existing conditions, jacking up premiums and reducing coverage, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care released the following statement:

“Here’s what the Republican so-called ‘health care’ agenda has done: raised premiums, gutted protections for people with pre-existing conditions and handed billions of dollars in tax breaks to insurance companies and drug companies while they jacked up costs and raked in record profits. Republicans know that when they face their constituents this fall, they will be facing a political mess of their own making. Next week is a year to the day that Americans rose up to defeat health care repeal in the Senate, and all this time later, poll after poll shows health care to still be the top issue for American voters. These bills do nothing to fix the problems they created and are an obvious attempt to create political cover they know they desperately need. These bills are designed to distract from the fact that every chance they get, Republicans vote 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.”

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

Washington, D.C. – As preliminary California rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicated a potential 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 California 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 Californians.”

From Covered California:

Peter Lee, Executive Director of Covered California: Rate Changes Should Have Been Much Lower. “It is unfortunate when a rate change of nearly 9 percent is generally viewed as good news, when the rate change could — and should — have been much lower.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/19/18]

Covered California Director Says That California Insurance Companies Added Between 2.5 And 6 Percent To Their Rates Because Of Republican Sabotage. “Lee said the elimination of the penalty for those who choose not to buy health insurance had a negative impact on rates for 2019. Carriers added between 2.5 and 6 percent to their rates, with an average of 3.5 percent, due to concerns that the removal of the penalty will lead to a less healthy and costlier consumer pool. Covered California estimates the 3.5 percent increase added to the rates will mean Californians will be spending more than $400 million more on their health care coverage in 2019.” [Covered California, 7/19/18]

Why Californians’ 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 California forecast potential double-digit rate hikes this fall because of Republican sabotage.

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

  • Experts from AARP, the Congressional Budget Office, and a wide range of other nonpartisan organizations agree that Republican actions are forcing up health care costs.
  • Republicans in Congress are supporting the Administration’s many actions to undermine health care, despite widespread opposition from patient and disease groups, doctors, nurses, hospitals, plus health care and consumer advocates.
  • The Trump Administration officials keep rewriting the rules to let big insurance companies cover fewer and fewer services while charging people more and more. The sabotage doesn’t stop there: last year the Administration fired many of the community assisters who help people enroll in health care; this year they are planning more enrollment cuts, making it even harder to sign up for coverage.
  • And now, Republicans are encouraging insurance companies to sell more junk plans that don’t have to cover basic care like hospitalization and prescription drugs, and that are allowed to charge people with pre-existing conditions more or even deny them coverage altogether. In California, no short-term plans available have to cover maternity care, and only 0 percent of plans cover prescription drugs.

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

  • 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 California by an average 17.8 percent this fall, according to a recent Urban Institute study.
  • This sabotage-driven rate hike will make the damage Republicans inflicted last year through repeal attempts and sabotage even worse.
  • Higher premiums will mean fewer working families can afford coverage: during the first year of the Trump Administration, millions more Americans joined the ranks of the uninsured – the highest increase since Gallup started tracking the uninsured rate.

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

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

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

  • 1,521,524 Californians signed up for Marketplace coverage this year.
  • Thanks to the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion, California’s uninsured rate fell by 7.6 percent between 2013 and 2016 as Californians have gained access to affordable coverage.
  • Before today’s announcement, the Urban Institute predicted that California premiums for 2019 could rise 17.8 percent more because of the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal and the Republican tax bill’s repeal of a key Affordable Care Act coverage incentive.
  • Even despite sabotage, Affordable Care Act subsidies help keep coverage affordable for 86 percent of California Marketplace consumers, whose average 2018 premium is $114 per month.
  • But because of the Republican sabotage agenda, many middle-income Californians could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more than they would have otherwise.

Californians 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

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]

Senate Democrats Launch Historic Defense of Protections for People With Pre-existing Conditions. Will Republicans Step Up?

Senate Democrats Demand that the Senate Go to Court to Defend Americans’ Health Care Against Trump Administration Attacks

Washington, DC – President Trump recently joined Republican attorneys general and governors in 20 states to use the courts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and strike down protections for people with pre-existing conditions, women, and people over 50. In response, today, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin, Bob Casey, Claire McCaskill, Chuck Schumer, and Patty Murray introduced a resolution to demand the Senate go to court and defend our health care law and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in response:

“Republicans have repeatedly said they care about people with pre-existing conditions, but every chance they get they turn a blind eye to the Trump Administration’s campaign to repeal protections for them in the law or, worse, they vote to take these protections away. Now, Republicans have a chance to make it right. The Trump administration has gone to court to try to strike down protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions including cancer, diabetes and asthma. If Republicans in Congress won’t endorse this resolution, they will once again make clear they’re on the side of insurance companies, not Americans who work for a living. Thank goodness Democrats will not stop fighting for the protections that prevent insurance companies from jacking up premiums for people with pre-existing conditions — or denying us care altogether because if Democrats stopped fighting, these protections would be long gone by now.”

BACKGROUND

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): “We must continue to prohibit insurers from discriminating against pre-existing conditions.” [Murkowski Remarks to Alaska State Legislature, 2/22/17]

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME): “My concern is to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions.” [Letter to Attorney General, 6/27/18]

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ): “The last thing we need to happen is to have people who have coverage now, to have that coverage that coverage yanked out from under them. Every plan that has been put forward that I will support continues to support those with pre-existing conditions having continued coverage. That’s important.” [Town Hall, 12:40-13:10, 4/13/2017]

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “Everybody I know in the Senate — everybody — is in favor of maintaining coverage for pre-existing conditions.” [Politico, 6/12/18]

Army of Grassroots Activists Oppose Kavanaugh

Advocates from Coast to Coast Oppose Trump Nominee

With polls showing that Brett Kavanaugh heads into his nomination hearings with the weakest approval ratings since doomed nominee Harriet Miers, it’s clear that the ground-game urging Kavanaugh’s defeat is working. Since day one of his nomination, health care advocates geared up in opposition to Kavanaugh, an activist judge who was hand-picked to rubber-stamp President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ war on health care.

Here are some highlights, with more activity on the ground happening today.

In Alaska, Protect Our Care was joined by health care advocates, Alaska Native leaders, and former Alaska Superior Court Judge John Reese to urge Sen. Lisa Murkowski to do what is best for Alaska and reject a justice who won’t protect Alaskans’ care.

 

In Maine, Protect Our Care was joined by the Maine Women’s Lobby and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in calling on Sen. Susan Collins to preserve protections for people with pre-existing conditions and women’s access to health care.

 

In Arizona, Jeff Jeans, a cancer survivor joined state Rep. Athena Salman, and representatives from Planned Parenthood and ACLU Arizona urged Senator Flake to stand up for Arizonans’ care.

 

In Montana, Protect Our Care was joined by NARAL Pro-Choice Montana and Anna Whiting Sorrell, an Indian health care leader and former director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, in sounding the alarm about Kavanaugh’s appointment.

 

In Nevada, Protect Our Care and Laura Packard, a health care advocate living with cancer, Cyndy Hernandez of NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada, and Sam Shaw of SEIU Nevada Local 1107 urged Sen. Dean Heller to stand up and protect Nevadans’ health care.

 

In North Dakota, a media tour with former Congressman Earl Pomeroy and former Acting Deputy Secretary of the Health and Human Services Mary Wakefield highlighted the the harms tens of thousands of North Dakotans would face if a rubber stamp on Trump’s anti-health care agenda reaches the Supreme Court.

 

In Ohio, Protect Our Care Ohio joined with Innovation Ohio, the Physicians Action Network, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio highlighted the current and long-term threats to health care under a conservative Supreme Court.

 

In Tennessee, Protect Our Care was joined by a coalition of concerned citizens including Jen Yamin, the mother of a son with pre-existing conditions, Kristen Grimm, the mother of child with special needs, and Anna Carella, Co-Chair of Healthy and Free Tennessee, outside Sen. Bob Corker’s Nashville office.

 

In West Virginia, Protect Our Care advocates went on the record to make it clear that they want their senators to stand up health care.

 

 

Protect Our Care Releases New Report Highlighting Trump Administration’s “Summer of Sabotage”

After Failing to Get the Votes, Trump Administration is Sabotaging Health Care at Every Turn

Washington, D.C. – As the one-year anniversary of bipartisan defeat of Affordable Care Act repeal in the United States Senate approaches, Protect Our Care today released a detailed report, Summer of Sabotage, which comprehensively lays out the extensive campaign the Trump Administration has undertaken to sabotage health care just in the last few months. The report covers every act of administrative sabotage since May, from the proliferation of junk plans and slashing funding for enrollment assistance to the nomination of an anti-health care judge to the Supreme Court.

“Whether by pushing junk plans that don’t cover people with pre-existing conditions or destabilizing the  market, President Trump and his allies are directly responsible for the higher health care bills Americans are seeing,” said Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care. “This report makes clear the depth and breath of Republicans health care sabotage and how costs are rising because of it.”

Read the report here.

“The Summer of Sabotage report lays out exactly what the president has done and how it will hurt patients,” said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy. “This is a critical time in this fight because if the president and his backers get their way, insurance companies will once again be able to jack up prices or even deny care – to people with a pre-existing health condition. The American people need to know, so they can stand up and fight back.”

In addition to providing a status report on the premium increases insurance companies have filed this summer, the report analyzes a number of actions the Trump administration has undertaken to sabotage our care, including:

  • Arguing against protections for people with pre-existing conditions in federal court;
  • Encouraging Americans to sign up for junk plans, which would bring back discrimination against women, people with pre-existing conditions and people over age 50;
  • Nominating Brett Kavanaugh, an extreme anti-health care judge, to the Supreme Court;
  • Slashing funding for navigators that help Americans obtain insurance;
  • Restricting access to Medicaid;
  • Making it harder to find information about the ACA online, and
  • Freezing the risk adjustment program, which could unnecessarily drive up premiums.

“President Trump and his allies continue their campaign to sabotage health care at their own peril,” said Leslie Dach, campaign chair of Protect Our Care. “Health care is a top-ranked issue for voters because they care about it — deeply — and because the actions Republicans have taken to rip health care away from us are happening in plain view, for all to see.”

###

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

Analysis Says Nevadans Pay 10 Percent More After GOP Sabotage

Washington, D.C. – As preliminary Nevada rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicated a potential double-digit average premium increase for some Nevadans 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 Nevada 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 being much more than they otherwise would be. 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 Nevadans.”

From Insurance Companies and Experts:

Hometown Health Providers insurance Company Cited Repeal Of Individual Mandate And Expansion Of Association Health Plans As Reasons Behind Its 14.3 Percent Rate Increase. “Three separate morbidity adjustments were applied to the experience period claims to reflect the population anticipated to be insured in Hometown’s individual PPO product in 2019. These adjustments [include:] Elimination of the individual mandate penalty, Expansion of association health plans.” [Hometown Health Providers Insurance Company, June 2018]

Charles Gaba, Health Care Analyst: Nevadans Pay 10 Percent More Than They Would Have Without GOP Sabotage. Charles Gaba, a health care analyst who tracks insurance companies’ annual rate requests, calculates that individual market premiums will increase an average of 2.3 percent, notably higher the 7.7 percent decrease Nevadans would have seen if not for GOP sabotage. [Gaba, ACA Signups, 7/17/18]

Why Nevadans’ 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 Nevada 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.
  • 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 Nevada, no short-term plans available have to cover maternity care, and only 33 percent of plans cover prescription drugs.

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

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

The Trump Administration’s sabotage will punish Americans by jacking up premiums again, compounding the damage done last year, when Republican sabotage pushed rates up by a national average of 37 percent, and 43 percent in Nevada.

  • 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 Nevada by an average 15.2 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 Nevadans’ care.

  • 91,003 Nevadans signed up for Marketplace coverage this year.
  • Thanks to the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion, Nevada’s uninsured rate fell by 11.8 percent between 2013 and 2016 as Nevadans have gained access to affordable coverage.
  • Before today’s announcement, the Urban Institute predicted that Nevada premiums for 2019 could rise 15.2 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 82 percent of Nevada Marketplace consumers, whose average 2018 premium is $87 per month.
  • But because of the Republican sabotage agenda, many middle-income Nevadans could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more than they would have otherwise.

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

 

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

 

KEY QUOTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lindsey Graham: Republicans “Own The Outcome” On Health Care. “Sen. Graham told Breitbart News, ‘In October, premiums are going up. Obamacare cannot be fixed. It’s going to continue to collapse, and then, we own the outcome. By repealing the individual mandate, which is a step forward in the eyes of the public, we own the issue. We have a responsibility to do something about the collapsing Obamacare system. I believe that we’re going to get blamed more than Democrats because we stopped trying to repeal Obamacare, and to suggest that we don’t own it is just simply politically naive.’ Graham continued, ‘It can hurt us in 2018. It can hurt by our base feeling like we betrayed them. It can hurt us from people suffering from Obamacare, like we don’t have a solution. It will energize Democrats. It can undercut everything we did on the tax cut side.’” [Breitbart, 2/6/18]

Rep. Charlie Dent: “We, The Republican Party…Own” Health Care Now. “Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) argued Friday that President Trump was ‘ill-advised’ to end key ObamaCare payments, warning that the GOP now ‘owns’ whatever happens to ObamaCare. ‘I think the president is ill-advised to take this course of action because … we, the Republican Party, will own this,’ Dent, a key House moderate who is retiring from Congress at the end of his term, said on CNN. Asked about Trump’s previous comments blaming problems with ObamaCare on former President Barack Obama, Dent pointed out that Republicans currently control the White House and have majorities in both chambers of Congress. ‘Barack Obama is a former president. President Trump is the president and he’s a Republican, and we control the Congress,’ Dent said. ‘So we own the system now. We’re going to have to figure out a way to stabilize this situation … This is on us.’” [The Hill, 10/13/17]

Washington Post: “The Pottery Barn Rule Comes To Mind: You Break It, You Own It.” “This is not ‘letting’ Obamacare fail. Many nonpartisan experts believe that these active measures are likely to undermine the pillars of the 2010 law and hasten the collapse of the marketplaces. The Pottery Barn rule comes to mind: You break it, you own it. Yes, the plate you just shattered had some cracks in it. But if you dropped it on the ground, the store is going to blame you.” [Washington Post, 10/13/17]

Washington Post: “Trump’s Not Going To Be Able To Avoid Blame For Kneecapping Obamacare.” [Washington Post, 10/13/17]

“After Months Of Pinning The Blame For Obamacare’s Shortcomings On Democrats And Watching His Own Party Fail To Act, President Donald Trump Just Took Ownership Of A Struggle That’s Consumed Republicans For Seven Years.” “After months of pinning the blame for Obamacare’s shortcomings on Democrats and watching his own party fail to act, President Donald Trump just took ownership of a struggle that’s consumed Republicans for seven years. Trump’s decision late Thursday to end government subsidies to insurers to help lower-income Americans afford to use their coverage under the Affordable Care Act was the most drastic step he’s taken to undermine his predecessor’s signature achievement. It also lobbed a live bomb into the laps of Republicans lawmakers 13 months before congressional elections after he publicly berated the party’s Senate leadership for being unable to keep a longstanding promise to repeal the law.” [Bloomberg, 10/13/17]

The American People Agree: President Trump And Congressional Republicans Are Playing Politics With People’s Health Care.  A poll conducted last September found that 61 percent of voters believed President Trump was “trying to make the Affordable Care Act fail,” and 64 percent of voters said Trump is “playing politics with people’s health care.” The poll also found that the American people seriously disapprove of how Republicans in Congress are treating health care: 80 percent of voters disapprove while only 20 percent approve. [Hart Research, 9/5/17]

Protect Our Care Launches “What’s At Stake” Week to Highlight How Kavanaugh Could Harm Health Care if Confirmed

Washington, D.C. – As the Trump Administration continues its unrelenting assault on Americans’ health care,  the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh threatens to raise the stakes even higher. With “What’s At Stake” week, running from Monday, June 16 through Sunday, June 22, Protect Our Care will continue to shine a light on the dire repercussions Americans face if the pro-health care majority in the Senate does not act to stop Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

“Here’s what’s at stake: protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, women’s health and rights, Medicaid coverage for low-income families, and so much more,” said Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care. “Rather than be a check on the President, Brett Kavanaugh would be a rubber stamp on President Trump’s extreme agenda of of ripping health care away from millions of people and returning to an era when women and doctors are criminals. The pro-health care majority in the Senate must recognize what’s at stake and reject Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.”

Since Kavanaugh’s  nomination to the Supreme Court was announced, Protect Our Care and its allies have held events in fourteen states: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Throughout What’s At Stake Week, advocates in these states will build upon the week of activism following Kavanaugh’s nomination last week, continuing to shine a light on the issues at risk, including:

  • Protections for the 130 million Americans with a pre-existing condition, who could be charged much higher rates or denied coverage entirely;
  • Protections for women and Americans over 50, who could see premium increases of up to 50 percent;
  • Women’s health care, including access to safe and legal abortion, contraception, access to Planned Parenthood,  and coverage for nursing moms, and,
  • Medicaid eligibility and Medicaid expansion, which cover 70 million Americans.

For more information about What’s at Stake with Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, read here.

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A Vote for Brett Kavanaugh is a Vote Against Health Care for Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions, Women & Americans Over 50

Since day one, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have waged a war on America’s healthcare. They tried and failed to repeal health care through legislation and are now trying to take it away in the courts. President Trump has gone to court to make protections millions of people with a pre existing conditions, people over 50 and women rely on illegal, and overturning the law was a litmus test for picking a nominee. Brett Kavanaugh is on record criticizing previous Supreme Court decisions that protected healthcare and has said the President doesn’t have to enforce current laws. It is likely that one or more partisan legal challenges to affordable health care will make it to the Supreme Court and this seat could tip the balance.

At Risk: Protections For 130 Million Americans With A Pre-Existing Condition

Roughly half of non-elderly American adults and one in 4 children, or up to 130 million people, have at least one pre-existing condition. That includes everyone with cancer, diabetes,asthma, and any form of mental health issue or drug abuse problem.  Prior to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies were able to discriminate against them, by charging them more, dropping coverage once people got sick, or denying coverage altogether. The ACA banned all of those practices, providing health security to millions.

Ending protections for people with pre-existing conditions is the official policy of the Trump Administration. The Trump Administration’s Department of Justice has taken the extraordinary step of joining the latest partisan lawsuit that seeks to strike down the ACA and has argued the Courts put Americans at the mercy of insurance companies by overturning provisions in the law that now prevent insurance companies from denying coverage completely or charging people more because of a pre-existing condition. Experts estimate that even if a cancer patient could get covered, they would have to pay as much as $140,000 a year more in premiums.

At Risk: Protections for Women and People Over 50

But that’s not all! If successful, the lawsuit joined by the Justice Department would also get rid of protections that prevent insurance companies from charging women and adults over 50 more for their health care coverage. Put another way, if these protections are taken away, we would go back to a time when older Americans could be charged an “age tax” of up to five times more for the same coverage as someone younger and women could be charged up to 50 percent more, just because they are women. Studies by AARP say premiums for someone over 50 could go up by more than $4,000 a year.

At Risk: Women’s Health Care

  • Access to safe and legal abortion: By age 45, one in four women in the U.S. has had an abortion, for reasons that are deeply personal. But Brett Kavanaugh has used his power as a judge to prevent a pregnant young woman from accessing a safe and legal abortion she wanted. His track record, coupled with Trump’s campaign promises to only appoint justices who will overturn Roe vs. Wade, put women’s right to safe and legal abortion in jeopardy.
  • Birth control coverage: Thanks to the ACA, 62.4 million women now have access to birth control with no out-of-pocket costs. Women saved $1.4 billion on birth control pills alone in 2013. Three courts of appeals are considering the Trump Administration’s roll back of the birth control benefit under the ACA, allowing any employer to deny coverage.
  • Access to Planned Parenthood: One in five women have turned to Planned Parenthood for care at some point in their lives for a wide range of health and education services, but numerous state and federal efforts are underway to block low-income women from continuing to rely on this provider of choice for so many. Currently, three cases working their way through the courts challenge state actions to prevent Planned Parenthood patients’ access to birth control and other preventive care.
  • Coverage for nursing moms:  Following the ACA, which helped give new moms access to lactation consultants, breast pumps, and time and space at work to pump their milk until as late as a year after birth, the rate of women breastfeeding 12 months after giving birth rose from 27 percent to 34 percent, the largest increase in any recent three-year period. Two court cases challenging the breast-feeding services available to moms at no cost under the ACA, however, could jeopardize these gains for maternal and infant health.

At Risk: Medicaid Coverage and Eligibility

Medicaid is a lifeline for one in five people, providing critical preventive care, substance use treatment, acute care, and more to more than 70 million people. Medicaid is the primary provider for long-term care in the country, covering 6 in 10 nursing home residents, is also the primary provider to help people with disabilities stay in their homes, and pays for roughly half of the births in this country.

But the Trump Administration has launched a new assault on Medicaid enrollees by pushing states to adopt rigid rules (so-called “work requirements”) that create burdensome paperwork requirements designed to kick people off coverage. These new rules are working their way through the courts and could very well make their way to the high court before long.

The bottom line: Brett Kavanaugh was hand-picked to be a rubber stamp on Trump’s anti health care agenda. That’s why health care is on the line in if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed.