Monthly Archives

October 2018

Wisconsinites Beware: Trump Administration Approves Walker’s Restrictive Medicaid Waiver

Washington DC – Today CMS approved Wisconsin’s plan to dramatically restrict Medicaid enrollment by taking coverage away from people who do not meet new burdensome work requirements or who cannot afford to pay new burdensome premiums. In response to the announcement, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“Let’s be clear: At a time when Scott Walker is in the political fight of his career — promising over and over again that he’ll protect people with pre-existing conditions — here he is teaming up with Donald Trump to rip health care away from the families who need it the most. Wisconsinites, the vast majority of whom want to ensure people with pre-existing conditions get the coverage they need, must judge Scott Walker by what he does, not what he says. Because despite all his recent talk about protecting people, all he really does is use his power as Governor to put barriers between the hardworking people in his state and the care and coverage they need.”

BACKGROUND

MEDICAID IS A LIFELINE FOR…

…CHILDREN & FAMILIES

  • Nearly 36 Million Children Are Enrolled In Medicaid And CHIP. Roughly 35.7 million children in the United States are enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • 38 Percent Of Children In America Are Covered By Medicaid. Nationally, nearly 2 in 5, or 38% of children in America have health insurance through Medicaid.
  • 49 Percent Of Births Are Covered By Medicaid.
  • 17 Percent of Parents Have Health Insurance Through Medicaid.
  • In 2010, Medicaid Kept 2.6 Million Americans Out Of Poverty.

…PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

  • Nearly 8.7 million adults enrolled in Medicaid have a disability. Of this group, only 43 percent qualify for social security income.

…SENIORS

  • More than 6.9 million American seniors have Medicaid coverage. 6,920,200 seniors, age 65 and older, are enrolled in Medicaid.
  • Medicaid funds 53 percent of long-term care nationwide. As seniors age, long-term care services become more and more vital, serving half of seniors over age 75 and three in four seniors over age 85.
  • Medicaid covers 6 in 10 nursing home residents. The average annual cost of nursing home care is $82,000 — nearly three times most seniors’ annual income.

…PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM OPIOID USE DISORDER

  • In 2014, Medicaid paid for 25 percent of all addiction treatment nationwide.

IN STATES WHERE SIMILAR RULES HAVE TAKEN EFFECT, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAVE LOST CARE

  • Early results in Arkansas confirm that Medicaid work requirements are fundamentally bureaucratic hurdles, threatening access to health coverage for thousands across the state. “The early results suggest that the incentives may not work the way officials had hoped. Arkansas officials, trying to minimize coverage losses, effectively exempted two-thirds of the eligible people from having to report work hours. Of the remaining third — about 20,000 people — 16,000 didn’t report qualifying activities to the state. Only 1,200 people, about 2 percent of those eligible for the requirement, told the state they had done enough of the required activities in August, according to state figures.” [New York Times, 9/24/18]
  • This summer, a federal district court blocked Kentucky from imposing similar rules for the negative effects it would have on Kentuckians. Said the court in its ruling, “[Secretary Azar] never adequately considered whether Kentucky HEALTH would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid. This signal omission renders his determination arbitrary and capricious. The Court, consequently, will vacate the approval of Kentucky’s project and remand the matter to HHS for further review.”
  • In Indiana, 25,000 people with health insurance through Medicaid were dropped from coverage because they were unable to pay their premiums. The Washington Post reported, “About 25,000 adults were disenrolled from the program between its start in 2015 and October 2017 for failure to pay their premiums, according to state reports. Yet, state officials estimate that based on surveys of recipients, about half of those who were disenrolled found another source of coverage, most often through a job…In addition to those who were disenrolled, another 46,000 adults who signed up for Medicaid during 2016 and 2017 were not accepted because they did not pay their initial premium, the state reported.”

TAKING AWAY SOMEONE’S HEALTH CARE DOES NOT HELP THEM TO WORK

  • Evidence suggests that such work requirements hurt, rather than help enrollees’ ability to find work. A study of Michigan’s Medicaid “illustrates the functional barriers to work that Medicaid beneficiaries face, and many of them result from physical and mental health challenges. This suggests to us that taking away their health coverage means that they are less likely to find work – not more so…a stable source of health coverage such as Medicaid is likely to assist people with their chronic mental and physical health conditions so that they are better able to seek employment.” In both Ohio and Michigan, having access to health care made it easier for the unemployed to find work: “majorities said that gaining health coverage has helped them look for work or remain employed. Losing coverage — and, with it, access to mental health treatment, medication to manage chronic conditions, or other important care — could have the perverse result of impeding future employment.

WORK REQUIREMENTS ADD ADMINISTRATIVE HURDLES, MAKING IT HARDER FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR CARE TO GET IT

  • Requiring People On Medicaid To Prove They Are Working Adds An Administrative Burden That Is Hardest On Low-Income Americans. “[Administrative hurdles] may be especially daunting for the poor, who tend to have less stable work schedules and less access to resources that can simplify compliance: reliable transportation, a bank account, internet access.  There is also a lot of research about the Medicaid program, specifically, that shows that sign-ups fall when states make their program more complicated.” [New York Times, 1/18/18]
  • Documentation Requirements Increase The Chances That People Will Lose Care, Simply Because They Have Trouble Navigating The Process. “There is a real risk of eligible people losing coverage due to their inability to navigate these processes, miscommunication, or other breakdowns in the administrative process. People with disabilities may have challenges navigating the system to obtain an exemption for which they qualify and end up losing coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 1/16/18]

THE VAST MAJORITY OF  PEOPLE WITH MEDICAID COVERAGE WHO WHO CAN WORK ARE WORKING

  • 60 percent of nondisabled people with health coverage through Medicaid have a job and are working, including 42 percent working full-time.
  • 51 percent of working adult Medicaid enrollees have full-time jobs year-round, but their salaries are still low enough to qualify for Medicaid coverage or have Medicaid because their employers do not offer insurance.  
  • Nearly 80 percent of nondisabled people with Medicaid coverage live in a family where at least one person is working, including 64 percent working full-time. The other adult family member may not be working because they have caregiving or other responsibilities at home.
  • A state by state breakdown can be found HERE

Montel Williams, Mary Barzee Flores, Miami Leaders Stand Up to Say, “It’s Time to End the Republican War on Health Care”

Local Health Care Advocates Join Protect Our Care to Call for an End to GOP Attacks on Floridians’ Health Care

Montel Williams speaks in front of Care Force One in Miami, Florida.

MIAMI, FLORIDA – This morning, Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour arrived in Miami to call attention to the ongoing Republican war on health care care. Headlined by Montel Williams and Mary Barzee Flores, the event highlighted the actions Republicans are taking to harm Floridians’ care and called on Republicans  to work instead to protect our care.

“Less than five months ago, I suffered a major hemorrhagic stroke that would have killed half the people who had it. I’m still standing today because I was blessed enough to have a career that’s given me an opportunity to pay into an insurance policy that covered me. But I’m not just here because of me. In the last three years, I’ve had a daughter who went through two bouts of lymphoma. We’re very blessed that she survived it, but she was only able to survive it because she was covered by the Affordable Care Act,” said Williams. “Had a normal family suffered this kind of catastrophic medical issue, they would be not just poor, but living on the street.

“For the previous 22 years, I registered as a Republican every single time, but I no longer register as a Republican. I register as an independent so that my independent voice can be heard on behalf of all those who can’t speak for themselves.”

Williams’ remarks were echoed by Barzee Flores, who spoke of her health issues her father suffered and how it inspired her to become a health care advocate.

“When I was about eleven, he lost his job, and when he lost his job, he lost his health care. And as he got sicker, we got poorer. And I’ll tell you what – I was only about eleven or twelve years old, and even I could tell how my family went from solidly middle-class to poor almost overnight. And there’s nothing remarkable about that story, because it’s happening day after day across this country, and it was happening even more before the Affordable Care Act became law,” said Barzee Flores. “Folks all over this country fear that they are one health crisis away from bankruptcy. And yet we’ve got Republicans politicians and a president and Rick Scott who have time and time again acted inconsistent with their own constituents to rip tens of millions of Americans of their health care.”

The importance of Williams’ and Barzee Flores’ remarks were made clear by cancer survivor Laura Packard.

“I’m alive because of the Affordable Care Act,” said Packard. “I’m a stage four cancer survivor and I’m on this tour to defend our attacks against the GOP. President Trump may have blocked me on Twitter, but he can’t stop me and the American people from fighting to protect our care.”

Williams, Barzee Flores, and Packard were joined by Paul Velez, CEO of the Borinquen Health Center; Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, chief of internal medicine at the University of Miami; Eva Perez, a cancer survivor and board member at the Borinquen Health Center; and Elena Hung, co-founder of Little Lobbyists.

At today’s event, Miami residents, health care advocates, elected officials and members of Protect Our Care detailed the numbers ways in which Republicans have attacked health care, and how these actions have cut coverage and increased costs for Floridians. Because of the Republican repeal-and-sabotage agenda:

  • Floridians will see their premiums increase by an average of more than five percent this year.  It’s expected that 40 year old Floridians will face paying an extra $900 for marketplace coverage in 2019 because of Republican sabotage of the health care market.
  • In Florida, out of pocket costs for older people could have increased by as much as $10,372 by 2026 if the House-passed American Health Care Act had become law.
  • More than 650,000 Floridians have been denied access to affordable health coverage through Republican state officials’ refusal to expand Medicaid.
  • Junk insurance plans that charge money for skimpy coverage could return to Florida and 609,000 Floridians could lack comprehensive coverage in 2019 because they will either become uninsured or will be enrolled in junk plans that don’t provide key health benefits.
  • More than 1.4 million Floridians who have obtained health insurance through the ACA marketplace could lose their coverage if a judge sides with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi,  President Trump and the GOP in their lawsuit; and protections nearly 7.8 million Floridians living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy.
  • Hundreds of billions of dollars have been cut from Medicare.
  • Dozens of hospitals in rural areas, including Campbellton-Graceville Hospital in Florida (2017), have closed, exacerbating the care and coverage gaps that exist for families in America’s rural communities.
  • Governor Rick Scott has been an opponent of the Affordable Care Act since day one.  Scott has blocked Medicaid expansion that could provide care for more than 650,000 Floridians, helped the Trump administration draft bills that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and he refuses to ask Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to remove herself from a lawsuit that threatens access to care for 7.8 million Floridians living with pre-existing conditions.
  • Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart, and Brian Mast  voted for and passed a health care repeal bill that would cause 23 million people to lose coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing condition; voted for a budget amendment that would cut Medicaid by $700 billion over ten years, $114 billion in a single year alone; and voted for a tax scam that doubled as a sneaky repeal of the Affordable Care Act  by kicking 13 million people off of their insurance and raising premiums by double digits for millions more.

Tomorrow, Care Force One’ will head to Port St. Lucie. For more information, please visit protectourcarebustour.com.

Fact-checking Mike Braun’s Two Big Health Care Lies Last Night

In his debate against Senator Joe Donnelly last night, Mike Braun doubled down on two big health care lies in an act of total political desperation because of the overwhelming unpopularity of his health care positions, including the junk insurance plan he offered his employees.

 

Last night, Braun Said, “I would never be for any replacement that doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions.”

 

BUT THE TRUTH IS BRAUN HAS PLEDGED TO “REPEAL AND REPLACE EVERY WORD” OF ACA, INCLUDING PROTECTIONS FOR PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

Braun, June 2018: I Will “Fully Repeal” Obamacare. “In the Senate, I will use my business experience and work with President Trump to fully repeal Obamacare and implement free-market solutions that will provide better healthcare for Hoosiers.” [City-County Observer, 7/26/18]

On the subject of the ACA, his website reads, “There is no repairing this broken law; the only option is to repeal and replace every word and regulation.” [Braun For Indiana, Accessed 8/14/18]

 

Last night Braun Said, “As a Republican, you get swept into the fact that you would support that lawsuit, that’s not the case.”

 

BUT THE TRUTH IS MIKE BRAUN SUPPORTS THE TRUMP-GOP LAWSUIT THAT WOULD GUT THE ACA ENTIRELY, INCLUDING PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS PROTECTIONS.

“‘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.” [Politico, 8/17/18].

 

WHO’S AT RISK IF MIKE BRAUN IS ELECTED TO THE SENATE?

  • 2,745,700 Hoosiers Living With A Pre-Existing Condition. About one in two Hoosiers, 50 percent, lives with a pre-existing condition. [CAP, 4/5/17]
  • 1,382,000 Indiana Women And Girls With A Pre-Existing Condition. Approximately 1,382,000 women and girls in Indiana live with a pre-existing condition. [CAP & National Partnership For Women and Families, June 2018]
  • 377,100 Indiana Children With A Pre-Existing Condition. Roughly 377,000 Hoosiers below age 18 live with a pre-existing condition. [CAP, 4/5/17]
  • 643,800 Older Hoosiers Living With A Pre-Existing Condition. 643,800 Indiana adults between the ages of 55 and 64 live with at least one pre-existing condition, meaning attacks on these protections significantly threaten Hoosiers approaching Medicare age. [CAP, 4/5/17]

We’ll Say It Again: Rep. Lou Barletta Voted to Gut Protections for People with Pre-Existing Conditions

Rep. Lou Barletta is claiming that Sen. Casey distorted his record on gutting protections for 5.3 million Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions using a Washington Post fact check as evidence.

However, Sen. Casey is correct. The American Health Care Act Barletta voted for would have gutted the protections for people with pre-existing conditions. And he repeatedly voted to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act.

The Washington Post fact check leaves out some important context.

  • Sen. Casey said all 5.3 million Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions could be “at risk” of losing protections. He was right. While the Washington Post correctly claims the changes to protections for people with pre-existing conditions would mostly impact people in the individual market, it fails to measure who would be “at risk.” The Department of Health and Human Services releases a report citing up to 130 million Americans had a pre-existing condition. That includes as many as 5.3 million Pennsylvanians. The Fact Checker has cited these numbers before. If someone in the employer market were to lose their job, or decide to start a business, or had their employer drop their coverage, they would most likely find insurance on the individual market and would be subject to gutted protections under the AHCA.
  • The AHCA impacted the employer market too. Another provision of the AHCA would have allowed states to allow insurers to waive the “essential health benefits” under the Affordable Care Act like maternity care, hospitalizations and prescription drugs, which apply to small business plans. Additionally, it would have allowed insurers to impose lifetime and annual limits on this coverage even for people in the employer based market, including for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Rep. Barletta has voted to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act. Rep. Barletta voted at least two times to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act which would have repealed protections for people with pre-existing conditions. In other words, he voted to allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Rep. Barletta voted for the tax bill that is the basis of a lawsuit to take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions. He has refused to renounce the lawsuit. In addition, Barletta voted for the tax bill that essentially eliminated the penalty for the individual mandate. Republicans in 20 states have used this as a basis to ask the courts to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act, including the protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Barletta has refused to denounce the lawsuit.

Rep. Barletta can try to rewrite his record all he wants but it doesn’t change the fact that his vote to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions put everyone at risk.

TONIGHT: Health Care Will Take Center Stage In Indiana Senate Debate

Washington DC – Tonight, health care champion Senator Joe Donnelly will debate Mike Braun, a pro-repeal and sabotage Republican who has been concealing his true record from voters in recent weeks. Ahead of the debate, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“Tonight’s debate will put on full display what many Hoosiers already are coming to know: just like Mike Braun’s skimpy health insurance for his employees made health care too expensive for too many, Mike Braun has no plan at all for protecting health care, including for those with pre-existing conditions, or making health care more affordable. Like many Republicans this cycle, Mike Braun seems to think he can skate to victory by lying to voters, but his lies will backfire just like his numerous calls to ‘fully repeal’ the Affordable Care Act and its protections for pre-existing conditions have. The truth is simple: Mike Braun would be another vote to roll back health care for tens of millions Americans if elected to the Senate.”

 

Additional Background:

 

BRAUN’S BEEN LYING TO VOTERS ABOUT HEALTH CARE

Braun Said He Supports A Plan To “Cover Pre-Existing Conditions, No Cap On Coverage, And Affordable.”  “In a phone call this week,  Braun says if he wins, he will support ACA repeal efforts, but preserve some of the most popular parts of the plan in a replacement. ‘The key part of it has to be: cover pre-existing conditions, no cap on coverage, and affordable,’ says Braun.” [WFYI, 10/25/18]

 

IN REALITY, BRAUN HAS PLEDGED TO “REPEAL AND REPLACE EVERY WORD” OF ACA, INCLUDING PROTECTIONS FOR PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

Braun, June 2018: I Will “Fully Repeal” Obamacare. “In the Senate, I will use my business experience and work with President Trump to fully repeal Obamacare and implement free-market solutions that will provide better healthcare for Hoosiers.” [City-County Observer, 7/26/18]

  • On the subject of the ACA, his website reads, “There is no repairing this broken law; the only option is to repeal and replace every word and regulation.” [Braun For Indiana, Accessed 8/14/18]

 

Mike Braun Supports The Trump-GOP Lawsuit That Would Gut the ACA Entirey, Including Pre-existing Conditions Protections:  “Sure, Anything That’s Going To Actually Get Rid Of It, Yes.” “‘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.” [Politico, 8/17/18]. If this lawsuit is successful, millions of Hoosiers stand to lose, including:

  • 2,745,700 Hoosiers Living With A Pre-Existing Condition. About one in two Hoosiers, 50 percent, lives with a pre-existing condition. [CAP, 4/5/17]

 

  • 1,382,000 Indiana Women And Girls With A Pre-Existing Condition. Approximately 1,382,000 women and girls in Indiana live with a pre-existing condition. [CAP & National Partnership For Women and Families, June 2018]

 

  • 377,100 Indiana Children With A Pre-Existing Condition. Roughly 377,000 Hoosiers below age 18 live with a pre-existing condition. [CAP, 4/5/17]

 

  • 643,800 Older Hoosiers Living With A Pre-Existing Condition. 643,800 Indiana adults between the ages of 55 and 64 live with at least one pre-existing condition, meaning attacks on these protections significantly threaten Hoosiers approaching Medicare age. [CAP, 4/5/17]

 

 

Protect Our Care: “Republicans Who Stubbornly Still Oppose Medicaid Expansion Are on the Wrong Side of History”

Washington, DC – In response to the breaking news that Idaho’s Republican Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has endorsed the Medicaid Expansion ballot initiative before voters in his state, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“Governor Otter came out today to endorse Medicaid expansion in Idaho because it’s simply the right thing to do for the people of Idaho. As Republican politicians across the country and the Trump Administration have worked to dismantle and defund Medicaid — and smear the millions of children, families and seniors who rely on the program — Medicaid has only grown in popularity. Republicans who still stubbornly oppose Medicaid expansion — be those gubernatorial candidates like Scott Walker or Ron DeSantis, or Senate candidates like Mitt Romney — are on the wrong side health care, the wrong side of voters, and the wrong side of history.”

MEDICAID EXPANSION IS A DEFINING ISSUE IN GOVERNOR’S RACES ACROSS THE COUNTRY

In Georgia, Democratic Candidate Stacy Abrams Has Said The First Thing She Would Do Is Expand Medicaid. “Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams has said the first thing she would do as governor is expand Medicaid. That’s the decision each state can make to give more low-income people access to health care. States receive federal funding for it, though they, too, have to pay into the program. ‘And you’ll hear me talk about this ad nauseam because it’s the only answer to Georgia’s challenges,’ Abrams said at a health care policy press conference Monday. ‘We have an uncompensated care rate of $1.7 billion.’…Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has refused to expand the program in Georgia, and Republican candidate Brian Kemp said he wouldn’t expand it either. ‘Government programs that aren’t working now are not a reason to give them more money,’ Kemp said at an event last week. Kemp said, instead, he favors opening up the private sector market to more competition to lower health care costs.” [WABE, 9/12/18]

In Florida, Andrew Gillum is running on Medicaid Expansion, with polling showing Floridians want to expand Medicaid. “According to new data from the left-leaning think tank Data for Progress, an estimated 65 percent of Florida voters support expanding Medicaid across the state — and, amazingly, voters in every legislative or congressional district from the Keys all the way up to the Panhandle support the idea.” [Miami New Times, 5/25/18]

In Ohio, Cordray Blasts DeWine, Who Flip-Flopped on Medicaid Expansion because it is so Popular. “Cordray also dinged DeWine on Ohio’s Medicaid expansion, which provides health coverage to nearly 700,000 Ohioans. Republican Gov. John Kasich has ‘done some things that are very good for Ohio,’ Cordray said. ‘He had real courage on the Medicaid expansion, bringing that to Ohio and fighting the naysayers in his own party who said, ‘Gee, that’s part of Obamacare.’ And my opponent was part of those naysayers.’ DeWine now says he’ll keep the expansion. But Eck didn’t answer a question asking why, if he favored it, DeWine repeatedly sued to kill the law that made it possible.” [Columbus Dispatch, 9/20/18]

In Wisconsin, Democratic Challenger Tony Evers Targets Scott Walker For Not Taking Federal Medicaid Expansion. “Evers made health care the focus of his only television ad to date, faulting Walker for not taking the federal Medicaid expansion and pointing out that the cost of an average health insurance plan sold on the private market this year in Wisconsin was more expensive than in Minnesota. Walker argues the ad is misleading and health insurance costs will decrease in Wisconsin once a recently approved reinsurance program takes effect.” [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/7/18]

In Michigan, Candidates Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Bill Schuette (R) Spar Over Medicaid Expansion. “As attorney general, Schuette joined at least nine lawsuits fighting the Affordable Care Act. In a 2017 fundraising mailer, he said he opposed the law, ‘including the ‘free’ federal Medicaid dollars from Obama that leave Michigan taxpayers on the hook for more!’ ‘He has been the chief advocate against Healthy Michigan in our state ever since we started the bipartisan negotiations on it,” Whitmer told The Detroit News. ‘The biggest threat to health care in Michigan is Bill Schuette.’ But the Medicaid expansion program is threatened by declining federal aid, Schuette notes. The federal government fully funded the Medicaid expansion program the first three years, but the state began paying a share in 2017 and will be required to cover 10 percent of the costs by 2020. By then, it’s estimated to cost the state roughly $380 million a year.” [Detroit News, 9/18/19]

In Tennessee, Karl Dean is Running on Medicaid Expansion, with Polls Showing Voters Support it Strongly. “The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research in April, showed 63 percent support Medicaid expansion with the use of federal funds to 21 percent against and 16 percent undecided.” [Nashville Tennessean, 5/7/18]

In Idaho, Democratic Candidate Paulette Jordan is a Supporter of Prop 2 (Medicaid Expansion). Her opponent, Lt. Gov. Brad Little has declined to say whether he will vote for the initiative but said if elected governor, he would respect the will of the voters if they pass Medicaid expansion. [KTVB, 10/29/18]

In Alabama, Democratic Challenger Walt Maddox Is Running On Medicaid Expansion. “The Democratic nominee began the tour in Tuscaloosa where he is mayor. Describing himself as the only candidate in the race talking about the state’s “big problems”, Maddox is running on a platform of establishing a state lottery to fund education programs and expanding Medicaid. Standing with his wife, Stephanie and his two children, Maddox said the race is about ensuring the state’s children have opportunities.” [Associated Press, 9/17/18]

 

Montel Williams, Mary Barzee Flores, Lauren Baer, David Shapiro to Headline Final Week of Protect Our Care’s Nationwide Bus Tour In Florida

Protect Our Care Finishes Nearly 12,000 Mile Bus Tour With Stops in Sarasota, Orlando, Miami, St. Lucie, and West Palm

Washington, D.C. – This week, Protect Our Care is finishing its nationwide bus tour, a 49-stop, 24-state bus tour highlighting the Republican war on health care and its impact on Americans from coast to coast. In its final week, Care Force One is criss-crossing Florida, stopping in Sarasota, Orlando, Miami, St. Lucie, and West Palm.

The final leg of tour will continue to show that the Republican war on health care is very much alive, with GOP officials using legislation, regulations, and the courts to continue their attacks on protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, for women and older Americans, and on Medicaid and Medicare.

At the five stops, Care Force One will be joined by notable Floridians, including Mary Barzee Flores, Lauren Baer, David Shapiro, State Sen. Audrey Gibson, and Rep. Amy Mercado; cancer survivor and health care advocate Laura Packard; Little Lobbyists co-founder Elena Hung; and Montel Williams. Each of the events will be livestreamed on the Protect Our Care Facebook page.

The week kicks off in Sarasota:

What: Protect Our Care Rally – Sarasota

Who: David Shapiro

State Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson

Laura Packard, cancer survivor

Floridians with pre-existing conditions and concerns over GOP actions

Where: Five Points Park

1 Pineapple Ave.

Sarasota, FL 34236

When: Monday, October 28

10:00 AM

Livestream: The event will be streamed on the Protect Our Care Facebook page

The Care Force One bus will then travel to Orlando:

What: Protect Our Care Rally – Orlando

Who: Rep. Amy Mercado

Dr. Karen Green

Laura Packard, cancer survivor

Floridians with pre-existing conditions and concerns over GOP actions

Where: Lake Eola Park

100 North Rosalind Ave.

Orlando, FL 32801

When: Monday, October 29

3:00 PM

Livestream: The event will be streamed on the Protect Our Care Facebook page

And later in the week, Care Force One will visit Miami:

What: Protect Our Care Rally – Miami

Who: Montel Williams

Mary Barzee Flores

Laura Packard, cancer survivor

Floridians with pre-existing conditions and concerns over GOP actions

Where: Exact location forthcoming.

When: Wednesday, October 31

11:00 AM

Livestream: The event will be streamed on the Protect Our Care Facebook page

Check out protectourcarebustour.com for the latest information on the tour. The final schedule of Care Force One appearances is below:

Sarasota, FL on Monday, October 29, 2018

Orlando, FL on Monday, October 28, 2018

Miami, FL on Wednesday, October 31, 2018

St. Lucie, FL on Thursday, November 1, 2018

West Palm, FL on Friday, November 2, 2018

###

 

Republicans’ New Campaign Strategy: Lie, Then Lie Some More

As momentum builds to maintain protections for people with pre-existing conditions, Republicans have taken to covering up their records by trying to portray themselves as defenders of people with pre-existing conditions even as they continue efforts to demolish the very protections they claim to support. Across the country, the media have caught on to their plan.

Republicans’ claims have been fact-checked:

NBC News Fact Check Of Trump Claim That He Supports People With Pre-existing Conditions: “This Is False.” “‘We totally support people with pre-existing conditions,’ Trump said at the White House last week. This is false. The Trump administration is backing a Republican-led lawsuit that claims Obamacare’s protections for pre-existing conditions are illegal. If the suit succeeds, insurers would be able to start denying coverage to those people. The White House has not proposed alternative legislation that would offer those with pre-existing conditions the protections Obamacare gives consumers.” [NBC News, 10/23/18]

New York Times Fact Check: Trump Claims To Protect Pre-existing Health Conditions. That’s Not What The Government Says. “At a campaign rally in Las Vegas, President Trump said that he and Republicans “will protect patients with pre-existing conditions.” But his Justice Department has said that those provisions under the Affordable Care Act should be overturned.” [New York Times, 10/21/18]

And outlets have called out Republicans’ attempts to hide the truth:

Washington Post Editorial: “It’s The Height Of Free-Lunch Irresponsibility For Republicans To Suggest That Consumers Could Have Mandatory Coverage For Preexisting Conditions Otherwise.” “It’s the height of free-lunch irresponsibility for Republicans to suggest that consumers could have mandatory coverage for preexisting conditions otherwise. It was already the height of hypocrisy for them to render Obamacare’s individual market less stable — then pledge to keep the part of it everyone likes. As the saying goes, though, hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue.” [Washington Post, 10/22/18

Time Magazine on Trump’s Pre-existing Conditions Statements: “To Say That These Claims Are Fantastical Is Almost An Understatement.” “In recent days, Trump has responded by making two bold pronouncements that have little grounding in the facts: that Republicans will protect people with pre-existing conditions, and that he is working on a big middle-class tax cut that will be voted on soon. ‘We’re going to be putting in a 10 percent tax cut for middle-income families. It’s going to be put in next week,’ he told attendees at an Oct. 22 rally in Houston. ‘We’ve been working on it for a few months, a 10 percent brand-new — and that is in addition to the big tax cuts that you’ve already gotten.’ To say that these claims are fantastical is almost an understatement…In both cases, Trump is essentially admitting that his approach on two signature issues was not popular and may end up costing some Republican lawmakers their jobs in the midterms.” [Time, 10/24/18]

CNN: Republicans Engaged In Tactical Ducking And, At Times, Outright Lies“ Over Pre-existing Condition Protections. “After two years of trying to repeal Obamacare outright, the President and some GOP candidates are suddenly claiming they support the Affordable Care Act’s protections for those with pre-existing conditions — even though they voted for repeal bills that would weaken them, or are suing to eliminate Obamacare altogether…But Republicans’ tactical ducking and, at times, outright lies over their roles in efforts to unravel the current system either through legislation or in the courts has left some Democratic candidates exasperated — and led to a new wave of Democratic attacks over the GOP’s inconsistencies.” [CNN, 10/25/18]

Axios: “Trump’s Tweet Is Wrong On Pre-existing Conditions.” “Reality check: Democrats have been criticized for a lot of things about the Affordable Care Act, which they passed over GOP objections. But this may be the first time they’ve been accused of not protecting people with pre-existing conditions, since the ACA does that and Republicans have been on the defensive ever since they tried to repeal it.” [Axios, 10/24/18]

Bloomberg: “In The Real World, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department Is Arguing In Court That The Affordable Care Act’s Protections For Pre-existing Medical Conditions Are Unconstitutional And Should Be Nullified.” “In the real world, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department is arguing in court that the Affordable Care Act’s protections for pre-existing medical conditions are unconstitutional and should be nullified. On top of that, his administration explicitly supported a bill passed by House Republicans that would have weakened those protections…That gets at the heart of Republicans’ dilemma: It’s one thing to promise an end to Obamacare’s burdensome regulations while vowing to lower premiums and maintain patient protections. But it’s actually a phenomenally difficult policy problem, and the GOP hasn’t offered a proposal that solves it.” [Bloomberg, 10/19/18]

HuffPost On Trump’s Claim That Republicans Will Protect People With Pre-existing Conditions: “Anybody Even Dimly Aware Of Recent History…Should Recognize The Claim As A Lie.” “President Donald Trump on Wednesday sent out another tweet on health care. ‘Republicans will totally protect people with Pre-Existing Conditions,’ he wrote. ‘Democrats will not!’ By now, the fundamental dishonesty of that statement shouldn’t require explanation. Anybody even dimly aware of recent history ― specifically, the part where Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act, only to have Republicans spend eight years trying to repeal it ― should recognize the claim as a lie. And anybody unfamiliar with that saga could simply have paid attention this week, when the Trump administration announced a major reinterpretation of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance rules. The change means that states can undermine some of the law’s key provisions that help people with serious medical problems.” [HuffPost, 10/25/18]

Slate: “More Than Obfuscation Or Spin, This Is Outright Lying.” “Republicans still want to repeal Obamacare, but they’re telling voters the opposite. On the campaign trail, Republican candidates are stalwart defenders of the Affordable Care Act and its most popular provision: a regulation that prohibits insurers from discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions. More than obfuscation or spin, this is outright lying. And as they do it, Republicans are showing contempt for voters, and further fraying our ability to do electoral democracy…When the Affordable Care Act was unpopular, Republicans promised to repeal it. Now that it’s popular, Republicans are essentially promising to protect it—even as they plan to deliver the opposite if given the chance.” [Slate, 10/19/18]

ABC News: Republicans Trumpet Pre-existing Condition Protections Despite Votes To Repeal Obamacare. “According to data gathered by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and confirmed by ABC News, the following Republicans in competitive races, Chabot included, all voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and pass the ACHA, but have also, in the final months of their midterm campaigns, released ads targeted to people with pre-existing conditions: Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.; Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.; Rep. John Faso, R-N.Y.; Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio; Rep. George Holding, R-N.C.; Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.; Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.; Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pa.; Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas; Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan.; Rep. David Young, R-Iowa.” [ABC News, 10/21/18]

Columnists were also taken aback by the lies:

Paul Krugman, New York Times Columnist: “Goodbye, Political Spin, Hello Blatant Lies.” “But Republicans no longer bother with deceptive presentations of facts. Instead, they just flat-out lie. What do they lie about? Lots of things, from crowd sizes to immigrant crime, from steel plants to the Supreme Court. But right now the most intense, coordinated effort at deception involves health care — an issue where Republicans are lying nonstop about both their own position and that of Democrats…Republicans don’t just hate the subsidies that help people buy insurance; they also hate the regulations that prevent insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. Indeed, 20 Republican state attorneys general filed a lawsuit trying to eliminate protection for pre-existing conditions, and the Trump administration has declined to oppose the suit, in effect endorsing it.” [New York Times, 10/11/18]

Paul Waldman For Washington Post On Trump Claim That Republicans Will Protect Pre-existing Conditions: “It Simply A Lie.” “Let’s focus on the idea that “All Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions.” As our video shows, this has become a common refrain among Republican candidates, claiming that despite what Democrats are alleging, they would never, ever seek to take away protections from people with preexisting conditions. That is simply a lie. Here are the facts. Until the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, insurance companies routinely denied people coverage if they had a preexisting condition, or they said that they would cover you, but the insurance would not cover that condition or that part of your body. Or they would offer you coverage, but set the premiums so high that you couldn’t possibly afford them. The ACA outlawed that practice, mandating both ‘guaranteed issue’ (they have to cover you) and ‘community rating’ (everyone gets charged the same premium for the same plan regardless of whether they have a preexisting condition).The ACA was opposed by every single Republican in both houses of Congress, and they immediately began holding votes to repeal the law and filing lawsuits asking the courts to strike it down. So there’s no confusion: If they succeed in what they’re trying to do, there would be no more protection for preexisting conditions.” [Washington Post, 10/19/18]

Frank Bruni, New York Times Columnist: On Pre-existing Conditions, Republicans Are “Brazenly Denying The Past.” “Meanwhile, many Republican candidates who fought proudly and persistently to junk Obamacare without any suitable alternative are brazenly denying that past and fashioning themselves as the planet’s greatest champions of guaranteed health insurance for Americans with pre-existing conditions. That’s less an artful flip-flop than an extravagant fiction, and it’s of a piece with Republicans’ sudden complacency about deficits now that they’re ballooning under the party’s governance.” [New York Times, 10/23/18]

Dana Milbank For Washington Post: Republican Websites Continue To Cover Up Their Health Care Histories. “And they are vigorously scrubbing their records, according to archived versions of their websites reviewed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Rep. Tom MacArthur’s (R-N.J.) site last year vowed: ‘Tom will work to repeal Obamacare, but won’t stop there.’ Now? ‘Tom opposed his own party’s efforts at a speedy Obamacare repeal.’ Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), in 2016, had a pledge: ‘I will do everything I can to repeal every word of Obamacare.’ That passage is now repealed from his website. Rep. Leonard Lance’s (R-N.J.) website, in 2016, boasted that ‘Lance is on the front-lines in the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare.’ Now, that same passage has been rewritten: ‘Lance is leading the fight for real Health Care Reform.’ Their problem: Of the 73 incumbent House Republicans in competitive races, 67 voted at least once to eliminate Obamacare’s protections for those with preexisting conditions according to an analysis by the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund.” [Washington Post, Milbank, 10/19/18]

Local media outlets have joined in taking on candidates’ lies:

Portland Press Herald Editorial Board Endorses Candidates On Health Care: “The Races In Maine’s Two Congressional Districts Are About Health Care, Taxes And Who Can Best Represent Our State In Washington.” “President Trump and other Republicans have demonstrated bad faith on health care, environmental policy and immigration. Pingree, however, has shown she’ll fight for the right side of those issues and others. She deserves another term…Where we think Golden would stand up for Mainers, Rep. Bruce Poliquin has, for the most part, let them down…Poliquin also voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act in ways that would have been devastating, stripping 24 million Americans of health insurance by 2026, including more than 100,000 Mainers. And while Poliquin has become an ardent supporter of protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions since he got on the campaign trail, his votes say otherwise.” [Portland Press Herald, 10/22/18]

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Leah Vukmir Claims To Support Pre-existing Condition Protections, But Only Offers Solutions Possible For Those Who Are Wealthy. “Leah Vukmir, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, also opposes the ACA but has said she supports covering people with pre-existing conditions. She hasn’t provided details on what she would support, but she has cited the state’s former Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan of Wisconsin, known as HIRSP, as a model. HIRSP was an option, however, only for people who could afford health insurance.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/19/18]

Even Republicans are calling out their own:

Former Kasich Aide John Weaver: Republicans Lying About Pre-existing Conditions “Do Not Deserve Your Vote.” Just saw a clip of @RepMcSally flat out lying about her longstanding opposition to insurance for those with pre-existing health conditions. She & the other Republicans lying about this issue & giving cover to Trump on so many other fronts do not deserve your vote.” [The Hill, 10/26/18]

Stacey Abrams, Atlanta Leaders Stand Up to Say, “It’s Time to End the Republican War on Health Care”

Local Health Care Advocates Join Protect Our Care to Call for an End to GOP Attacks on Georgians’ Health Care

Stacey Abrams speaks at this morning’s event in Atlanta.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – This morning, Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour arrived in Atlanta to call attention to the ongoing Republican war on health care care. Headlined by Stacey Abrams and former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, the event highlighted the actions Republicans are taking to harm Georgians’ care and called on them to work instead to protect our care.

Abrams spoke of her parents, recalling the time they nearly lost their health care when the church they worked at couldn’t afford to pay their premiums, and she was able to help cover the cost.

“I know what it’s like to lose everything and to not necessarily have children or family members to step up and help,” said Abrams. “800,000 people in Georgia live in a household where there’s a full-time worker and yet they do not have coverage. This is a solvable problem in the state of Georgia, and that’s why I’m fighting so hard for Medicaid expansion.”

Abrams’ remarks were echoed by Richards, who discussed her time working for Planned Parenthood, which provides health care coverage for more than two million Americans each year.

“The most important work that we did was creating an alliance with folks all across the country to pass the Affordable Care Act,” said Richards. “Because of the Affordable Care Act that women no longer have to pay more for the same health care coverage that men recieve. It’s because of the Affordable Care Act women can’t be denied coverage because they’ve been pregnant or had breast cancer… Because of the ACA, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition in the United States of America.”

Former U.S. Representative Donna Edwards discussed voting for the ACA, and what its passage meant to her.

“At the time, I thought that it was about everybody else’s coverage [but] when I was set to depart Congress in 2016, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis,” said Edwards. “Today, I pay for my own health care coverage… I’m afraid that with the current Administration and the moves of Republicans in Congress, my pre-existing prediction will not longer be protected and I will lose my health care.”

The importance of Abrams’, Richards’, and Edwards’ comments were made clear by cancer survivor Laura Packard.

“I’m alive because of the Affordable Care Act,” said Packard. “I’m a stage four cancer survivor and I’m on this tour to defend our attacks against the GOP. President Trump may have blocked me on Twitter, but he can’t stop me and the American people from fighting to protect our care.”

Abrams, Richards, Edwards, and Packard were also joined by Staci Fox, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, who highlighted the actions Georgia Republicans have taken to defund health care centers and deny women coverage; Janel Greene, co-founder of the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, who discussed her battle with breast cancer and conversations she has had with family members explaining that the ACA is not a handout, but rather provides important protections for millions of Americans; and Janna Blum of Little Lobbyists, who spoke of her four-year-old son, Elijah, who was born with a pre-existing condition, and the need to maintain these crucial protections provided under the ACA.

At today’s event, Atlanta residents, health care advocates, elected officials, and members of Protect Our Care detailed the numbers ways in which Republicans have attacked health care, and how these actions have cut coverage and increased costs for Georgians’. Because of the Republican repeal-and-sabotage agenda:

  • Georgians will see their premiums rise by as much as 14.7 percent next year. It’s expected that 40 year old Georgians  will face an extra $1,270 for marketplace coverage in 2019 because of Republican sabotage of the health care market.
  • In Georgia  out of pocket costs for older people could have increased by as much as $10,553 by 2026 if the House-passed American Health Care Act had become law.
  • Nearly 475,000 Georgians have been denied access to affordable health coverage through Republican state officials’ refusal to expand Medicaid.
  • Junk insurance plans that charge money for skimpy coverage could return to Georgia and 242,000 Georgians could lack comprehensive coverage in 2019 because they will either become uninsured or will be enrolled in junk plans that don’t provide key health benefits.
  • 404,000 Georgians who have obtained health insurance through the ACA marketplace could lose their coverage if a judge sides with Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, President Trump and the GOP in their lawsuit; and protections for 4.3 million Georgians  living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy.
  • Hundreds of billions of dollars have been cut from Medicare.
  • Dozens of hospitals in rural areas have closed, including six in the state of Georgia, exacerbating the care and coverage gaps that exist for families in America’s rural communities.

Next week, Care Force One will wrap up its nationwide bus tour with five stops across Florida. For more information, please visit protectourcarebustour.com.

Kaiser Family Foundation Confirms That Trump, GOP Sabotage Means Americans Pay More For Insurance Than They Should

As President Trump repeats the lie that he is responsible for relatively low premium increases on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces this year, new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analysis says otherwise. The analysis released this morning finds that President Trump has actually caused 2019 premiums to be 16 percent higher than they otherwise would have been absent GOP sabotage. Among the report’s key findings:

  • On-exchange consumers’ premiums for 2019 are 16 percent higher than they should be because of GOP sabotage. The key drivers of these higher premiums are policies enacted by the Trump Administration and its Republican allies: “Altogether, on-exchange silver premiums in 2019 are therefore approximately 16% higher than would otherwise be the case if federal CSR payments had continued (the loss of which contributed approximately 10% to silver exchange premiums), the individual mandate penalty were still enforced, and more loosely-regulated plans were not expanding (the latter changes contributed an additional 6% to 2019 rates).”
  • The repeal of the individual mandate and the expansion of junk plans has caused 2019 premiums to be  6 percent higher than they should be. Kaiser estimates that the repeal of the individual mandate penalty and the expansion of junk plans (association and short-term plans) will cause consumers to pay 6 percent more than they would absent these actions in their 2019 premiums.
  • The administration’s decision to halt cost sharing reduction payments will cause on-exchange consumers to pay 10 percent more than they would have had CSRs not been stopped.
  • Even consumers off the ACA exchange will pay 6 percent more because of Republican sabotage. Kaiser found, “Looking ahead to 2019, premiums in much of the country are holding flat or decreasing a bit, but unsubsidized off-exchange consumers on average will nonetheless pay an average of 6% more than they otherwise would have, if it were not for repeal of the individual mandate and expansion of more loosely regulated plans.”