Monthly Archives

August 2018

Senate Republican Candidates Run From Their Record to Take Away Protections for People with Pre-existing Conditions

Today’s POLITICO story, “GOP’s Midterm Peril: What If They Win on Killing Obamacare?,” laid bare the confounding position Republican Senate candidates have put themselves in in the face of consistent, overwhelming public support for protections for people with pre-existing conditions and with health care remaining a top issue for voters. Even though they’ve voted numerous times to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, have filed a lawsuit to eliminate these protections, or said they support total repeal of these protections, they hypocritically declare their “support” of the very same protections their actions would take away.

Patrick Morrissey Is Party to the Trump-GOP Lawsuit That Would Get Rid of Protections for People with Pre-existing Conditions, But Wants Voters to Believe He Supports These Protections. “Similarly, Morrisey said he supports pre-existing protection coverage despite being party to the lawsuit that would eliminate the law providing those protections. ‘You can believe that some of the pieces, helping those who need it most, are good but still have a lawsuit to get rid of the awful policy of Obamacare,’ Morrisey said.” [Politico, 8/17/18]

Kevin Cramer Supports The Trump-GOP Lawsuit That Would Get Rid of Protections for People with Pre-existing Conditions and Voted Repeatedly to Eliminate Them But Wants Voters to Believe He Nevertheless Supports The Protections. “Both Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley and Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) say they support protecting pre-existing conditions, though Hawley is a party to the lawsuit and Cramer supports it, saying: ‘Who doesn’t want the constitutionality of something reviewed?'” [Politico, 8/17/18]

Mike Braun Supports “Anything” to Get Rid Of the Affordable Care Act, Including the Lawsuit, and Says Congress Should Then Pass the Very Same Protections (When All Four Major Senate GOP Repeal Bills Would Have Eliminated Them).  “‘Sure, anything that’s going to actually get rid of it, yes,’ said Indiana GOP Senate nominee Mike Braun of the GOP lawsuit to gut the law in an interview in Mishawaka. ‘And then be ready to come back and talk about what you’re ready to do about pre-existing conditions and no limits on coverage. That’s where you don’t hear much conservative talk.'” [Politico, 8/17/18]

Josh Hawley, Party To The Trump-GOP Lawsuit, Said The Senate Would Act to Protect People With Pre-Existing Conditions If His Suit Was Successful, Even Though All Four Major Senate GOP Repeal Bills Would Have Eliminated Them. “Hawley says he supports protecting pre-existing conditions as well as allowing children to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 25. And he says if the lawsuit is successful and Obamacare is scuttled, the Senate must act to keep those provisions and rewrite healthcare laws. ‘The Senate is not doing its job. There’s no doubt about that. Claire McCaskill is a huge part of the problem,’ said Hawley. Next year, Hawley says replacing Obamacare ‘has got to be a top priority.'” [Politico, 8/17/18]

Dean Heller Refused To Talk About The Trump-GOP Lawsuit, While Also Declining to Join Senate Democrats in Defending the Law In Court.  “And vulnerable incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) refused to talk about the lawsuit on Thursday, though his office said he support pre-existing condition protections.”  [Politico, 8/17/18]

Marsha Blackburn Refused To Talk About The Trump-GOP Lawsuit. “Several GOP candidates have not addressed the issue directly, wary that supporting the lawsuit will undermine Republicans’ stance that they stand to protect pre-existing conditions. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said she still supports getting ‘the whole [Obamacare] thing off the books.’ but declined to weigh in on the lawsuit.” [Politico, 8/17/18]

Kevin Cramer’s Multiple Votes To Eliminate Protections For People with Pre-Existing Conditions

Facing a powerful new ad from Sen. Heidi Heitcamp, Rep. Kevin Cramer has become the latest Republican candidate to duck-and-cover from the GOP repeal-and-sabotage agenda, including his own votes to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. He cast two of them:

  1. 2013: Cramer Voted For A Total Repeal Of The ACA.  Cramer voted for HR 45, an act “to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.” [HR 45, Roll Call Vote #154, 5/16/13]
  2. 2015: Cramer Voted For A Total Repeal Of The ACA.  Cramer voted for HR 596, an act “to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.”  The bill also ordered House committees to develop a replacement that would “provide people with pre-existing conditions access to affordable health coverage,” but provided no specifics. [HR 596, Roll Call Vote #58, 2/3/15]

In fact, Cramer’s own website acknowledges his vote would “repeal the affordable care act in its entirety.” “Today Congressman Kevin Cramer voted with the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.” [Cramer Website, 2/3/15]

Three Things Sec. Azar Gets Wrong On Junk Plans

Yesterday, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, penned an op-ed for the Washington Post in which he is caught hiding the dirty truth about the Trump Administration’s new policy to expand short-term, limited duration junk health plans. These junk plans are designed to take us back to when insurance companies could discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, exclude coverage for services like maternity care, and charge women and older people more.

Junk plans can exclude or deny medical services such as prescription drug coverage, hospitalization, and maternity care. Even when plans say they cover prescription drugs, the benefit is often capped at a limit, such as $3,000. Adding insult to injury, short-term plans have a history of finding ways to deny coverage after people become sick. This happened to Dawn Jones, who was diagnosed with breast cancer after buying a short-term plan when she was between jobs. Despite not knowing she had breast cancer when she bought the policy, the insurance company refused to pay for her treatment, leaving her with a $400,000 medical bill.

These plans are so awful that they are opposed by more than 98 percent of health groups that filed comments with HHS about Trump Administration’s plan make them more widely available.

Here are the facts:

1. JUNK PLANS HURT PEOPLE WITH COVERAGE IN THE ACA MARKETPLACES. Sec. Azar claims that junk plans “improves the exchange risk pools.”

Healthy people will leave the individual market for these plans, causing everyone else’s premiums to go up. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes, these plans will divide the market between those who are sick and those who are healthy: “Short-term plans would be most likely to attract healthier people, leading to premium increases for ACA-compliant plans and destabilizing individual insurance markets across the nation. “

2. JUNK PLANS MAKE COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CARE MORE EXPENSIVE. Sec. Azar claims that repealing the individual mandate and expanding junk plans mean millions who couldn’t afford health insurance “will now be able to do so.”

Repealing the individual mandate and loosening short-term plan rules drive up premiums for everyone who needs comprehensive care. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that repealing the individual mandate will increase premiums by 10 percent annually for the next decade, and a report by Wakely Consulting Group estimates that short-term plans alone will cause premiums to increase by 1.4 percent in 2019.

3. JUNK PLANS MAKE IT HARDER FOR PEOPLE TO FIND COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE. Sec. Azar says junk plans will “improve health-care choice and competition.”

Azar could be right if you don’t have a pre-existing condition, aren’t a woman or person over fifty, don’t need maternity care or prescription drug coverage, and will never have to use the hospital over the weekend. Junk plans are allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions by dropping or denying coverage, charge women more, impose annual limits on care, and exclude basic coverage, like hospitalization, prescription drug coverage, and maternity care. In an analysis of short-term plans conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, no short-term plans studied covered maternity care, 62 percent did not cover substance abuse treatment, and 71 percent did not cover outpatient prescription drug services. One plan won’t cover expenses if someone is admitted to a hospital on a Friday or Saturday.

DON’T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT: STATE OFFICIALS WARN AGAINST JUNK PLANS

State Insurance Regulators Express Concern That Short-Term Plans Are Being Marketed To Consumers In Misleading Way. “State insurance regulators, gathered over the past three days for a meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, expressed deep concern that short-term plans were being aggressively marketed in ways likely to mislead consumers. Many said the plans, which need not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s coverage mandates, were a poor substitute for comprehensive insurance.” [New York Times, 8/6/18]

(AK) Lori Wing-Heier, Director Of Alaska Insurance Division: “I’m Concerned That People Will Buy These Policies, Show Up At The Hospital For A Condition They Did Not Expect, And Discover They Are Not Covered.” [HuffPost, 8/5/18]

(CA) California Insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones: “Of Course They’ll Be Less expensive…That’s Because It’s Junk Insurance And It Won’t Cover The Same Things.” [HuffPost, 8/5/18]

(CO) Colorado Interim Insurance Commissioner, Michael Conway: People May Read Warnings, But Not Understand How Bare-bones These Plans Really Are. “They may read [the warning], but that’s not the same as understanding it…Because of the ACA, now people think the baseline has changed ― that certain things are always covered.” [HuffPost, 8/5/18]

(NY) Deputy Superintendent At New York Department Of Financial Services, Troy Oechsner: “These Are Substandard Products.” “‘These are substandard products,’ sold on the premise that ‘junk insurance is better than nothing’ for people who cannot afford comprehensive coverage, Troy J. Oechsner, a deputy superintendent at the New York Department of Financial Services, told the insurers.” [New York Times, 8/6/18]

(PA) Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman Has Already Revoked The Licenses Of Eight Brokers Or Agents Misrepresenting Short-term Plans. “In Pennsylvania, Altman said she has already revoked the licenses of eight brokers or agents who had been misrepresenting short-term plans.” [The Hill, 8/12/18]

(TN) Tennessee Insurance Commissioner, Julie Mix McPeak Is Concerned About Whether Consumers Fully Understand The Plans They Buy. “‘We have to really make sure consumers know what they’re purchasing, and they’re aware of what’s covered and what’s not covered,’ Mix McPeak said. ‘The last thing we need is for consumers to have surprise bills.'” [The Hill, 8/12/18]

Protect Our Care Statement on Rep. Cramer’s Support of Trump-GOP Lawsuit to Eliminate Protects for North Dakotans with Pre-existing Conditions

“For the past 18 months, the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress, including Rep. Kevin Cramer, have been waging a relentless war on our health care — undermining key protections for people with pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Trump Administration even went to court and asked a federal judge to overturn those protections. Last week, Kevin Cramer said he agreed with the suit. If Rep. Cramer has his way, insurance companies would have the power once again to deny, drop or charge more for coverage for people with pre-existing conditions like heart disease, cancer or diabetes. They would be able to impose annual or lifetime limits and charge women more. This is not a hypothetical debate. These actions could hurt hundreds of thousands of North Dakotans,” said Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care.  

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

Trump Administration Attempts to Reverse Pre-Existing Condition Protections, Threatening 316,000 North Dakotans’ Care

The Trump Administration recently announced a dramatic escalation of its attempts to roll back protections for people with pre-existing conditions, saying its Department of Justice will ask the courts to eliminate these protections. The move comes after multiple attempts by Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and Administration proposals to encourage short-term ‘junk’ plans that can discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.

316,000 North Dakotans Live With A Pre-Existing Condition. About one in two North Dakotans, 50 percent, lives with a pre-existing condition. [CAP, 4/5/17]

154,000 North Dakota Women And Girls Have A Pre-Existing Condition. Approximately 154,000 women and girls in North Dakota live with a pre-existing condition. [CAP & National Partnership For Women and Families, June 2018]

40,800 North Dakota Children Already Have A Pre-Existing Condition. Roughly 41,000 North Dakotans below age 18 live with a pre-existing condition. [CAP, 4/5/17]

73,700 Older North Dakotans Live With A Pre-Existing Condition. 73,700 North Dakota adults between the ages of 55 and 64 live with at least one pre-existing condition, meaning attacks on these protections significantly threaten North Dakotans approaching Medicare age. [CAP, 4/5/17]

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT OUTLAWED DISCRIMINATION BASED ON PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

Because Of The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Can No Longer Deny Coverage Or Charge More Because Of Pre-Existing Conditions. Under current law, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a ‘pre-existing condition’ — that is, a health problem you had before the date that new health coverage starts.” [HHS]

The ACA Outlawed Medical Underwriting, The Practice That Let Insurance Companies Charge Sick People And Women More. As the Brookings Institution summarizes, “The ACA outlawed medical underwriting, which had enabled insurance carriers to court the healthiest customers while denying coverage to people likely to need costly care. The ACA guaranteed that all applicants could buy insurance and that their premiums would not be adjusted for gender or personal characteristics other than age and smoking.”

The ACA Stopped Companies From Charging Women More Than Men For The Same Plan. The Affordable Care Act eliminated “gender rating,” meaning American women no longer have to pay an aggregated $1 billion more per year than men for the same coverage.

Thanks To The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Can No Longer Rescind Coverage Because of Illness. Because of the ACA, insurance companies can no longer rescind or cancel someone’s coverage arbitrarily if they get sick.

NOW, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WANTS TO BRING BACK PRE-EXISTING CONDITION DISCRIMINATION

Since Assuming Office, President Trump And Congressional Republicans Have Repeatedly Attempted To Repeal The Affordable Care Act And With It, Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions.

  • The Trump Administration Just Asked Courts To Eliminate Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions. In early June, the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice decided to argue that courts should throw out the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Senate Republican Repeal Bill Would Have Allowed States To Waive ACA Protections, Allowing Insurance Companies To Charge Sick Patients More.
  • House Republican Repeal Bill Would Have Allowed Insurance Companies to Charge People With Pre-Existing Conditions “Prohibitively High Premiums.”

BEFORE THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, INSURANCE COMPANIES ROUTINELY DENIED COVERAGE BECAUSE OF PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

Before The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Maintained Lists Of So-Called Deniable Medical Conditions. If someone had one or more ‘deniable’ conditions, they were automatically denied coverage. Common ‘deniable’ conditions included:

  • Pregnancy, alcohol or drug abuse with recent treatment, dementia, arthritis, cancer, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hemophilia, hepatitis, diabetes, paralysis, severe obesity, sleep apnea, AIDS/HIV, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, pending surgery or hospitalization, and muscular dystrophy. [Kaiser Family Foundation, December 2016]

Many Insurance Companies Also Maintained Lists Of Deniable Medications — Meaning That They Could Deny Coverage To Any Applicant With A Prescription For: Anti-arthritic medications, anti-diabetic medications, medications for HIV/AIDS or hepatitis, anti-cancer medications, anti-psychotics or other central nervous system medications, anti-coagulant medications, and other common drugs. [Kaiser Family Foundation, 12/12/16]

Insurance Companies Also Denied Coverage Based On People’s Jobs. For example, Preferred One Insurance Company used to deny coverage from people with the following professions: active military personnel, air traffic controllers, bodyguards, firefighters, law enforcement professionals, detectives, professional athletes, taxi cab drivers, window washers, security guards, scuba divers, miners, pilots, and offshore drillers.

Before The Affordable Care Act, 18 Percent Of Individual Market Applications Were Denied By Insurance Companies Because Of A Pre-Existing Condition. Experts believe this shocking statistic is actually an underestimate, because “many people with health conditions did not apply [for coverage] because they knew or were informed by an agent that they would not be accepted.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 12/12/16]

If Someone Who Managed To Get Insurance Later Got Sick, Insurance Companies Could Find Ways To Charge Them More Or Rescind Coverage. Before the ACA, if someone had a condition expected to cost the insurance company more, such as acne, the insurance company would follow a practice called “medical underwriting” that allowed them to charge the applicant a higher premium, specifically exclude coverage for the condition that was expected to be costly, charge the applicant a higher deductible, and/or limit the applicant’s benefits (for instance, offer a policy that does not cover prescription drugs). Conditions that would trigger medical underwriting included: acne, allergies, anxiety, asthma, basal cell skin cancer, depression, ear infections, fractures, high cholesterol, hypertension, incontinence, joint injuries, kidney stones, menstrual irregularities, migraine headaches, being overweight, restless leg syndrome, tonsillitis, urinary tract infections, varicose veins, and vertigo.

This Foul Play Impacted Robin Beaton, Whose Insurance Company Denied Her Coverage For A Double Mastectomy Because She Had Previously Received Acne Treatment. “Robin Beaton found out last June she had an aggressive form of breast cancer and needed surgery — immediately. Her insurance carrier precertified her for a double mastectomy and hospital stay. But three days before the operation, the insurance company called and told her they had red-flagged her chart and she would not be able to have her surgery. The reason? In May 2008, Beaton had visited a dermatologist for acne. A word written on her chart was interpreted to mean precancerous, so the insurance company decided to launch an investigation into her medical history. Beaton’s dermatologist begged her insurance provider to go ahead with the surgery…Still, the insurance carrier decided to rescind her coverage. The company said it had reviewed her medical records and found out that she had misinformed them about some of her medical history. Beaton had listed her weight incorrectly. She also didn’t disclose medication she had taken for a pre-existing heart condition — medicine she wasn’t taking when she originally applied for coverage.” [CNN, 6/19/09]

Decoding Sen. Blunt’s Doublespeak on Junk Plans

Yesterday, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) wrote an op-ed touting the Trump Administration’s junk plan policy that expands the availability of short-term limited duration plans. Blunt makes a valiant effort to argue these junk plans are actually insurance, but we thought it would be helpful to translate what these plans mean for people.

WHEN HE SAYS Junk Plans Will “Meet The Needs Of Consumers.”

WHAT HE MEANS IS…

Junk Plans Can Discriminate Against People Based On Whether They Have A Pre-Existing Condition Or Gender. Short-term health plans are exempt from key consumer protections mandated by the Affordable Care Act. These junk plans are allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions by dropping or denying coverage, charge women more, impose annual limits on care, and exclude basic coverage, like hospitalization, prescription drug coverage, and maternity care.

Junk Plans Don’t Have To Cover Certain Benefits, Forcing People To Pay More For The Same Comprehensive Coverage They Have Under The ACA. A study by the Commonwealth Foundation revealed that, “While 35 states and the District of Columbia require short-term plans to cover at least one state benefit mandate, none of them require short-term policies to cover all essential health benefits.” In a separate study of seventeen states, Commonwealth found that four states had no approved short-term plan sellers because they required such plans to cover all or some of the same rules as traditional coverage. The Congressional Budget Office has previously estimated that insurance plans that do not cover essential health benefits could supplement coverage by selling riders, such as a maternity care rider that would cost an additional $1,000 per month — charging people who need comprehensive care even more for the same coverage.

Most Junk Plans Did Not Cover Maternity Care, Substance Abuse Treatment Or Prescription Drugs. In an analysis of short-term plans conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, no short-term plans studied covered maternity care, 62 percent did not cover substance abuse treatment, and 71 percent did not cover outpatient prescription drug services.

WHEN HE SAYS Junk Plans Don’t Require People To Pay For Benefits They Will Never Use.

WHAT HE MEANS IS Junk Plans Can Discriminate Against People Who Are Sick And Need Care And Do Not Have To Provide Coverage For The Care You Need. Junk plans can exclude or deny medical services such as prescription drug coverage, hospitalization, and maternity care. Even when plans say they cover prescription drugs, the benefit is often capped at a limit, such as $3,000. One short-term plan marketed by UnitedHealth’s Golden Rule subsidiary does not cover hospitalization over the weekend, and only 29 percent of junk plans cover prescription drugs. Adding insult to injury, short-term plans have a history of finding ways to deny coverage after people become sick.

WHEN HE SAYS Junk Plans Will Help Provide Coverage To Americans Who Are Uninsured.

WHAT HE MEANS IS People Think They’re Insured, But Find Out They’re Really Not When They Get Sick. Because junk plans are so skimpy, insurance commissioners worry that they may trick people into thinking they have insurance only to be riddled with unexpected bills once they get sick. This happened to Dawn Jones, who was diagnosed with breast cancer after buying a short-term plan when she was between jobs. Despite not knowing she had breast cancer when she bought the policy, the insurance company refused to pay for her treatment, leaving her with a $400,000 medical bill.

DON’T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT: STATE OFFICIALS WARN AGAINST JUNK PLANS

State Insurance Regulators Express Concern That Short-Term Plans Are Being Marketed To Consumers In Misleading Way. “State insurance regulators, gathered over the past three days for a meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, expressed deep concern that short-term plans were being aggressively marketed in ways likely to mislead consumers. Many said the plans, which need not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s coverage mandates, were a poor substitute for comprehensive insurance.” [New York Times, 8/6/18]

(AK) Lori Wing-Heier, Director Of Alaska Insurance Division: “I’m Concerned That People Will Buy These Policies, Show Up At The Hospital For A Condition They Did Not Expect, And Discover They Are Not Covered.” [HuffPost, 8/5/18]

(CA) California Insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones: “Of Course They’ll Be Less expensive…That’s Because It’s Junk Insurance And It Won’t Cover The Same Things.” [HuffPost, 8/5/18]

(CO) Colorado Interim Insurance Commissioner, Michael Conway: People May Read Warnings, But Not Understand How Bare-bones These Plans Really Are. “They may read [the warning], but that’s not the same as understanding it…Because of the ACA, now people think the baseline has changed ― that certain things are always covered.” [HuffPost, 8/5/18]

(NY) Deputy Superintendent At New York Department Of Financial Services, Troy Oechsner: “These Are Substandard Products.” “‘These are substandard products,’ sold on the premise that ‘junk insurance is better than nothing’ for people who cannot afford comprehensive coverage, Troy J. Oechsner, a deputy superintendent at the New York Department of Financial Services, told the insurers.” [New York Times, 8/6/18]

(PA) Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman Has Already Revoked The Licenses Of Eight Brokers Or Agents Misrepresenting Short-term Plans. “In Pennsylvania, Altman said she has already revoked the licenses of eight brokers or agents who had been misrepresenting short-term plans.” [The Hill, 8/12/18]

(TN) Tennessee Insurance Commissioner, Julie Mix McPeak Is Concerned About Whether Consumers Fully Understand The Plans They Buy. “‘We have to really make sure consumers know what they’re purchasing, and they’re aware of what’s covered and what’s not covered,’ Mix McPeak said. ‘The last thing we need is for consumers to have surprise bills.'” [The Hill, 8/12/18]

 

Constituents Say: “Protect Our Care, Stop Kavanaugh” at Events, Office Visits and in New Digital Ads

From a Rally in Fairbanks to a Roadtrip to Augusta, Americans Held Events to Ask Their Senators to #StopKavanaugh

Protect Our Care Up with New Digital Ads in Maine, Alaska, Nevada and Nationally Spotlighting the Stories Senators Refuse to Hear

 

Washington, DC – Republican Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Dean Heller will return to Washington after being inundated with phone calls, letters, emails and visits from constituents pleading with them to defend the health care protections millions of Americans rely upon and stop Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Yet these Senators refuse to conduct a thorough review of Brett Kavanaugh’s record and downplay or ignore the pleas and concerns of their constituents. Both Kavanaugh and the Senators who offer him their support are paying a price with their constituents. Polls show that Kavanaugh is the least popular Supreme Court nominee in recent history, less popular than Harriet Miers, whose nomination was withdrawn, and more recent polls show him under water. Support for Kavanaugh is also starting to become a political negative for Senators themselves, with a poll showing Senator Collins has an approval rating of just 49 percent, reportedly her lowest in years.

But instead of town halls or open meetings, constituents found closed doors at Senator Heller’s office in Reno and resorted to searching for Senator Collins at unlisted “public” appearances in Augusta. So in response, Protect Our Care went up with new digital ads featuring the impossible-to-ignore stories of Mainers, Nevadans and Alaskans concerned about Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Court.

View the ad here:

Though constituents struggled to meet personally with their Senators, Collins and Murkowski did speak with reporters last week. Senator Collins downplayed the threat Kavanaugh poses, saying, “For those who have somehow drawn the connection between [Kavanaugh’s] not wanting to hear [a case on the ACA] because of jurisdictional issues and the very important consumer protections that are part of the ACA is, to me, a stretch.”

Senator Murkowski seems to refuse to ask Kavanaugh about his view on the constitutionality of the important consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act — which are under attack in the courts right now — saying, “I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m going to say I’m not going to vote for you unless you promise me you’re going to rule this way…That’s not a good process.’”

“Senators need to listen to their constituents, who are fully aware that our health care is under attack in the courts,” said Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care. “Cases designed to roll back the protections in the Affordable Care Act that millions of people count on, to roll back Medicaid, and to end safe and legal abortion are live in the courts right now and likely to make their way to the Supreme Court soon. These are life and death issues that matter deeply to us, which is why the public is demanding that their Senators stand up and stop Kavanaugh.”

More Information About the Stories Featured In Protect Our Care’s New Ad (watch the Alaska, Nevada, and Maine versions here)

Kristen Nilsen, a Mainer with a pre-existing condition who has faced higher costs due to Republican sabotage of the ACA:

“Prior to the Affordable Care Act, I would have had to spend $1,500 a month [on health care], and that was all due to the fact that I had a very minor pre-existing condition that prevented me from getting an affordable plan. So I was very pleased that I was able to use the Affordable Care Act… My concern is that the Republicans will continue the sabotage that they have been waging against the ACA… and people wkith pre-existing conditions will get discriminated against if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed.”

Allison Stephens, a Nevadan who is the parent of a child with pre-existing condition:

“When my son was six years old, he was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. The fact is, my son has to see a specialist who comes from out of state, he has to take chemo injection, he has to take special eye exams because of the autoimmune nature of his illness. My son has a pre-ex and without the protections of the ACA we would be in a scenario where he could be denied access to insurance or denied access to care.”

Genevieve Morgan, a Mainer with a pre-existing condition:

“While I was getting a check-up, it revealed an anomalous high blood-pressure reading, which led to further tests that showed I had a genetic incurable disease… my children are now at a 50/50 chance of inheriting it. We are all one doctor’s appointment away from catastrophe… the system should at least give people with pre-existing conditions the protection of having health insurance.”

Mark Regan of the Disability Law Center of Alaska:

“A concern about Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his nomination to the Supreme Court is the extent to which Judge Kavanaugh will likely protect people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions.”

Laura Packard, a Nevadan living with a pre-existing condition:

“Senator Heller knows the threat that Brett Kavanaugh poses to million of Nevadans and to Americans’ access to health care across the country and we demand that he stand up for the people he was elected to represent. I have a whopper of a pre-existing condition: I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I have a policy through the ACA, but who would insure me if not for these protections?”

Factcheck: Azar’s Lies at ALEC

Just now, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar addressed the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive group that backed Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law and is even too toxic for Exxon Mobil (but still supported by his former Big Pharma employer, Eli Lilly). Protect Our Care fact-checked Azar’s lies about our health care in his speech.

Azar claimed 28 million Americans are uninsured because of the Affordable Care Act.

TRUTH: The ACA had helped 20 million people gain coverage and pushed uninsured rate down. But then Trump was the one that signed legislation in December that is expected to make 13 million more people newly uninsured.

Azar claims people who don’t have subsidies are backing out of the markets because premiums have gone up so much.

TRUTH: The Trump administration is taking actions that push health premiums even further out of reach. Just ask insurance commissioners and other experts in state after state.

Azar claims short-term plans are great for the gig economy.

TRUTH: Short-term plans leave Americans with junk coverage and saddled with huge debt. People in the gig economy enrolled in these junk plans could be left owing hundreds of thousands if they, say, get in a car accident.

Azar claims there’s been good progress on driving the costs of drugs down.

TRUTH: Pharmaceutical companies are reaping huge benefits from Republican tax cuts, raising prices and earning massive profits while President Trump pushes sham drug pricing policies.

Azar claims that Americans feel disempowered with health care because government rules stand in the way of necessary competition.

TRUTH: Americans feel disempowered because Trump-GOP policies are driving the cost of their health care up, and they’re terrified they could once again be discriminated against for having a pre-existing condition.

“An Outrageous Attack on Health Care”

Protect Our Care Opposes Trump Administration Rule that Keeps Children and Families Away from Health Care and in the Shadows

In response to media reports that the Trump administration is manufacturing a “public health crisis” through its proposed “public charge rule,” Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“As if ripping families apart at the border and putting children in cages wasn’t bad enough, the Trump administration now wants to use health care as a weapon against legal immigrants in America. This is yet another outrageous attack on health care in this country and the ability of immigrants to live their lives with dignity.”

Read more in the Washington Post:

A White House Proposal Has Legal Immigrants Forgoing Health-care Services Out of Fear

Pro-Repeal Republican Incumbents Should Be Scared this Morning

Last night’s results from the special election in the 12th Congressional District of Ohio reaffirm what we have already seen in elections across the country: support for health care repeal is an albatross at the ballot box.

Every Republican who voted for health care repeal should be worried this morning. Republicans running for re-election in competitive districts have one thing in common: they overwhelmingly voted to take away Americans’ health care — and they’ll have to answer for this on the campaign trail. Of the Republican incumbents whose races are considered “toss up” or “lean Republican” from the Cook Political Report, all but three who were there on the day of the vote voted for the House health repeal bill:

Toss Up

CA-10 Rep. Denham voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

CA-25 Rep. Knight voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

CA-48 Rep. Rohrabacher voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

FL-26 Rep. Curbelo voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

IA-01 Rep. Blum voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

IA-03 Rep. Young voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

IL-06 Rep. Roskam voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

IL-12 Rep. Bost voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

KY-06 Rep. Barr voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

ME-02 Rep. Poliquin voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

MI-08 Rep. Bishop voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

MN-02 Rep. Lewis voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

MN-03 Rep. Paulsen voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

NY-19 Rep. Faso voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

NY-22 Rep. Tenney voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

TX-07 Rep. Culberson voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

TX-32 Rep. Sessions voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

VA-07 Rep. Brat voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

Lean Republican

AR-02 Rep. Hill voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

CA-45 Rep. Walters voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

FL-16 Rep. Buchanan voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

FL-18 Rep. Mast voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

IL-13 Rep. Davis voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

IL-14 Rep. Hultgren voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

KS-03 Rep. Yoder voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

NC-13 Rep. Budd voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

NE-02 Rep. Bacon voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

NJ-03 Rep. MacArthur voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

OH-01 Rep. Chabot voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

PA-16 Rep. Kelly voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

UT-04 Rep. Love voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

VA-02 Rep. Taylor voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

WA-05 Rep. McMorris Rodgers voted for the House Republican health repeal bill.

Sen. Dean Heller Doubles Down on Health Repeal, Says It Was a “Missed Opportunity” While GOP Plots To Do It Again

The last 24 hours in health care politics have been revealing.

First, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), the most vulnerable Republican senator this year, called last year’s failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act a “missed opportunity” and doubled down on his support for health repeal in an interview with the Washington Examiner.

  • Dean Heller: “We made the big mistake of trying to do that first and it was too heavy of a lift.… It was a missed opportunity, without a doubt.”

Second, we learned that Republicans indeed want to try to repeal health care again should they win in the November midterms election.

  • AXIOS: Republicans eye another ACA repeal vote if midterms go their way

Leslie Dach, chair of Protect our Care, commented, “Dean Heller has doubled down on his war on Nevadans’ health care. His dream, and that of his party, of having another chance to gut protections for pre-existing conditions should be every Nevadan’s worst nightmare.”