Monthly Archives

October 2018

Four Ways the RNC Gets it Wrong on Health Care

The Trump administration and Republicans are trying to take credit for stabilizing marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act. They are wrong. Before Trump and Republicans in Congress began its two year war on health care to repeal and sabotage the Affordable Care Act, independent analyses showed the marketplaces were already beginning to stabilize. Their efforts to repeal and sabotage the ACA actually led to higher costs for people, especially because they were undermining protections for pre-existing conditions.

Here are four ways the Republican National Committee gets it wrong in a recent report.

1 – REPUBLICAN REPEAL EFFORTS HAVE RAISED OUR COSTS

The Trump administration and Republicans want to take credit for premiums “getting better.” The truth: the relentless war on health care the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have waged over the last 18 months have caused costs to increase.

  • Brookings Analysis Estimates That Individual Market Premiums Would Decrease If Not For GOP Sabotage. Among its key findings:
    • Estimates That Average Premium Would Fall By 4.3 Percent In 2019 In Stable Policy Environment. “I estimate that the nationwide average per member per month premium in the individual market would fall by 4.3 percent in 2019 in a stable policy environment.” [Brookings Institution, 8/1/18]
    • Insurance Companies’ Revenues Will Far Exceed Their Costs In 2018. “I project that insurers’ revenues in the ACA-compliant individual market will far exceed their costs in 2018, generating a positive underwriting margin of 10.5 percent of premium revenue. This is up from a modest positive margin of 1.2 percent of premium revenue in 2017 and contrasts sharply with the substantial losses insurers incurred in the ACA-compliant market in 2014, 2015, and 2016. The estimated 2018 margin also far exceeds insurers’ margins in the pre-ACA individual market. ” [Brookings Institution, 8/1/18]
    • Absent Republican Sabotage, Average Premiums For ACA-Compliant Plans Would Likely Fall In 2019. “In this analysis, I define a stable policy environment as one in which the federal policies toward the individual market in effect for 2018 remain in effect for 3 2019. Notably, this scenario assumes that the individual mandate remains in effect for 2019, but also assumes that policies implemented prior to 2018, like the end of CSR payments, remain in effect as well. Under those circumstances, insurers’ costs would rise only moderately in 2019, primarily reflecting normal growth in medical costs.” [Brookings Institution, 8/1/18]

2 – PRIOR TO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, PREMIUM RATES WERE STABILIZING

The Trump administration and Republicans are trying to take credit for a stabilizing marketplace. The truth: the marketplaces were stabilizing before Trump came into office.

  • Before Trump became president, experts predicted ACA marketplaces were stabilizing. Prior to the Trump administration, independent analyses show that the Affordable Care Act was working. Standard’s & Poor said it expected insurers’ performance in the marketplaces to be better in 2016 than in 2015, and 2017 would be better than 2016.
  • Net premiums only increased $1 from 2016 to 2017, before the Trump/GOP sabotage began. In March 2017, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said it anticipated “the market to be stable” under the ACA. The average premium after tax credits increased by $1 dollar, from $100 in 2016 to $101 in 2017.

3 – REPUBLICANS ARE ACTIVELY UNDERMINING PROTECTIONS FOR PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

The Trump administration and Republicans tout their new “short-term, limited duration” plans as a way to reduce costs. The truth: Republicans have been actively undermining protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

  • These are junk plans because insurance companies can deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and they do not have to cover essential benefits under the ACA, meaning people won’t have the coverage they need when they need it. For example:

Los Angeles Times: Expanding Short-Term Plans Is Opposed By Nearly Every Patient Advocacy Organization In The Country. “Expanding short-term plans also risks driving up costs for Americans with preexisting medical conditions who need more comprehensive benefits…Among the groups that have opposed the Trump administration’s moves are virtually every leading patient advocacy organization in the country, including the American Lung Assn., the American Heart Assn., the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the March of Dimes, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Susan G. Komen, AARP and the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society. [LA Times, 8/1/18]

HuffPost: Short-Term Plans Provide Junk Coverage And Drive Up Costs Of Comprehensive Care. “Meanwhile, those seeking out comprehensive plans because they want or need them will discover those policies have gotten more expensive, thanks to the way short-term plans will affect the rest of the insurance market. Some insurance shoppers will have serious, even life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, which will mean their insurance must have a full set of benefits. But those kinds of policies will become more expensive than they can afford. [HuffPost, 8/1/18]

Bloomberg: Cheaper Plans “Can Come At A Cost.” “For some people, though, the cheaper premiums can come at a cost, such as when insurers claim that a cancer treatment shouldn’t be covered because a patient had the disease before buying coverage, as Bloomberg reported in October.” [Bloomberg, 7/31/18]

Short-Term Plans Sometimes Impose Unexpected Rules, Like For Instance Refusing To Cover Hospitalizations During The Weekend.There may be other strange rules. A review of some plan documents from Families USA found an Illinois plan that would cover only hospitalizations beginning during the week — inpatient stays that began on the weekend would not be allowed except in rare circumstances. Some plans had waiting periods for care. Cancer treatment, for example, is not covered in certain plans during the first month a person is enrolled in a plan, and no treatment for illness is covered in the first five days. That’s the kind of detail that might be easy to overlook when signing up for a plan if you aren’t expecting a cancer diagnosis.” [New York Times, 8/1/18]

  • In addition, Republicans in 20 states are suing to overturn the Affordable Care Act and eliminate its protections for people with pre-existing conditions in a Texas district court. The Trump administration is siding with them, not federal law, and asking the judge to specifically overturn the protections that ban insurance companies from denying coverage, or charging more, because of a pre-existing condition.

4 – ALLOWING INSURANCE COMPANIES ACROSS STATE LINES IS A RACE TO THE BOTTOM

The Trump administration and Republicans are pushing a proposal to allow insurance companies to sell across state lines as a way to lower costs. The truth: this would be a race to the bottom for insurance companies to sell from states with the least consumer protections, thus hurting consumers.

  • CBO: Selling Across State Lines Would Result In People Living In States With More Consumer Protections To Be Offered Plans From States That Do Not Have Those Protections. “Under H.R. 2355, CBO expects that individual health insurance would be offered across state lines to individuals in states with relatively expensive coverage mandates and rate-setting rules that permit relatively little variation in the prices an insurer may charge. The insurers offering those policies would be licensed in, and regulated by, states that do not have those characteristics.” [Congressional Budget Office, 9/12/05]
  • Urban Institute: Insurers Would Domicile Firms In States With Lax Regulations And The Least Consumer Protections. “Pre-ACA proposals to permit sales of insurance across state lines would have allowed insurers to take advantage of the regulatory variation across states. The same is true for current proposals to permit such sales while simultaneously repealing all or most of the ACA. Under such a policy scenario, insurers would have powerful financial incentives to domicile firms in states that have little regulation of nongroup insurance markets, such as those without guaranteed issue, those with no limits on premium rating, those permitting liberal use of benefit riders, and so on.” [The Urban Institute, 6/29/16]
  • NAIC: Allowing The Sale Of Insurance Across State Lines Would “Preempt” Consumer Protections In States. “In the same vein, we strongly oppose legislation that would preempt state authority. We continue to see proposals that would preempt state licensing requirements and, thus, consumer protections by allowing sales across state lines by federal edict, without proper discretion for the states to form compacts between themselves. We also see proposals that would preempt state solvency requirements and regulations by creating federally licensed insurance pools called ‘association health plans.’ Such federal actions would strip states of the ability to protect consumers and create competitive markets and should be rejected.” [NAIC Letter to Reps. Walden, Brady, Pallone and Neal, 1/24/17]

Blackburn Can’t Hide From Her Shameful Record On Health Care

“Make no mistake, Blackburn’s idea of healthcare means Americans get ZERO while Big Pharma takes all,” said Brad Woodhouse, chair of Protect Our Care

Tonight in Johnson City, Tennessee, President Trump will stump for Marsha Blackburn in her run for Senate. Blackburn has come under fire for her repeal-and-sabotage health care record, as well as the moves she has made to weaken the DEA’s opioid enforcement at a time when deaths due to the opioid epidemic in Tennessee were twice the national average. Said Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, in response to Blackburn’s Senate run:

“Blackburn’s heartless record of ripping health care away from people while doing favors for big drug companies disqualifies her from a promotion to the U.S. Senate. With Blackburn in the Senate, there’d be no more protections for people with pre-existing conditions and insurance companies could once again charge Americans over 50 more for their coverage. Make no mistake, Blackburn’s idea of health care would mean Americans get zero while Big Pharma takes all, at a time when their profits are higher than ever.”

 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

Although Marsha Blackburn Has Claimed To Support Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions, the Truth Is:

BLACKBURN VOTED TO REPEAL PROTECTIONS FOR PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS, AND MORE

2011:  Blackburn Voted To Repeal And Defund The ACA.  Blackburn voted for the fiscal 2012 budget that would have repealed and defunded the Affordable Care Act. [HCR 34, Roll Call Vote #277, 4/15/11]

2013:  Blackburn Voted For A Total Repeal Of The ACA.  Blackburn 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]

2015:  Blackburn  Voted For A Total Repeal Of The ACA.  Blackburn 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]

 

What would full repeal of the Affordable Care Act Eliminate in Tennessee?

  • Protections for 2.7 million Tennesseans  if they buy coverage on their own
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs
  • Allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women
  • Limit on out-of-pocket costs
  • Medicaid expansion currently covering 15 million people
  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable
  • Small business tax credits
  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for up to 200,000 Tennesseans

 

BLACKBURN VOTED TO STRIP COVERAGE FROM TENNESSEANS AND GUT COVERAGE FOR PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

2017: Blackburn Voted For AHCA. Blackburn voted for passage of the American Health Care Act.  [HR 1628, Roll Call Vote #256, 5/4/17]

What Did AHCA Mean for Tennessee?

  • In 2026, more than 630,000 Tennesseans would lose coverage under this bill.
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the American Health Care Act would have raised premiums 20 percent in 2018.
  • AHCA imposed what the AARP calls an “age tax” on older Americans. In Tennessee, out-of-pocket costs for older people could increase by as much as $12,325  by 2026.
  • The negative economic impact of the American Health Care Act would cause 32,241 Tennesseans to lose their jobs by 2022.

What Did AHCA Mean For Pre-Existing Conditions?

  • The American Health Care Act weakens key protections of the Affordable Care Act by allowing states to let insurers charge people with pre-existing conditions more, among other provisions. The bill would also make it more likely insurers would cherrypick young and healthier people, causing costs to skyrocket for older, sicker people.
  • The American Health Care Act allowed states to eliminate community rating, meaning insurers would be able to charge people with pre-existing conditions more. This surcharge could be in the tens of thousands of dollars and even six figures: up to $4,270 for asthma, $17,060 for pregnancy, $26,180 for rheumatoid arthritis and $140,510 for metastatic cancer.
  • Politifact found that AHCA “would weaken protections” for those with pre-existing conditions and “would allow states to give insurers the power to charge people significantly more.”

2018: Blackburn Said She Remains Committed To Repealing The Affordable Care Act.  “Last year, the Senate failed its promise to the American people when it refused to repeal the law, but Marsha remains committed to returning health care to a patient-centered system where families and doctors can make their decisions.” [Marsha for Senate, accessed 9/28/18]

 

NEW POLL: Florida Senate Race

Six in 10 Florida Voters Cite Health Care as Most or Very Important Issue in the Midterms

Sixty-five Percent of Florida Voters Oppose Scott-GOP Repeal and Sabotage Efforts, Including GOP’s Lawsuit Targeting Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions

Public Policy Polling Survey Has Bill Nelson Up Four Points in Senate Race (Nelson 48, Scott 44) and Gillum Up Four in Governor’s Race (Gillum 48, DeSantis 44)

Washington, DC – A new Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey commissioned by Protect Our Care finds that 60 percent of registered voters in Florida say health care will be one of the most important issues they consider when casting their vote in November. What’s more, 65 percent are deeply concerned about Rick Scott’s support of health care repeal and the same proportion oppose the Trump Administration’s lawsuit to end protections for those with pre-existing conditions, which Scott has refused to oppose and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has joined.

The poll shows that for Scott, who has opposed Medicaid expansion, whose company was fined $1.7B for Medicare fraud, and who has been one of the architects of the GOP’s repeal of America’s health care, the issue of health care is a drag on his prospects for election to the Senate. In the poll, Scott trails Senator Bill Nelson 44 (Scott) to 48 (Nelson). PPP surveyed 779 registered Florida voters between September 28-30, 2018 through automated telephone interviews.. The margin of error is +/- 3.5%.

Said Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, in response to the poll:

“Fraudster Rick Scott thinks he can eke out a victory on election night by hiding from his own record of working to repeal health care, but Florida voters are having none of it. The people of Florida say health care is one of the most important issues to them this election, and as a result of Rick Scott’s disastrous health care policies as Governor and in the private sector, a majority of Florida voters disapprove of his job performance and are not likely to give him a promotion to the U.S. Senate.”

Key Findings from the Protect Our Care-PPP Poll:

  • Sixty-five percent of Florida voters say health care is the most important or a very important issue for them this election.  
  • Sixty-five percent of Florida voters say the elimination of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, supported by Rick Scott, is “a major concern.”
  • Florida voters oppose the Florida attorney general and Trump administration’s lawsuit to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions by a 49 point margin, 65 percent to 16 percent.
  • Sixty-five percent of Florida voters say the “Age Tax” supported by Bill Nelson is “a major concern.”
  • Over half (55 percent) of Florida voters oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act and instead want to keep what works and fix what doesn’t.
  • Voters are less likely to vote for Rick Scott because of his refusal to expand Medicaid (57 percent less likely) and his company’s Medicare fraud (54 percent less likely).
  • In the Senate race, the survey finds 48 percent of voters supporting Nelson and 44 percent supporting Scott, with nine percent undecided.
  • In the race for governor, the survey finds 48 percent of voters supporting Gillum and 44 percent supporting DeSantis, with eight percent undecided.

You can read the full poll results here.

What Would Repeal of Health Care in Florida Mean?

  • Protections for 7,810,300 with pre-existing conditions, if they buy coverage on their own
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs
  • Allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women
  • Limit on out-of-pocket costs
  • Medicaid expansion currently covering 15 million people
  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable
  • Small business tax credits
  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for up to 1.4 million Floridians.

The Truth about Rick Scott’s Anti-Health Care Record

  1. Rick Scott Helped Design Republican Repeal Efforts That Would Jeopardize Access To Care For Up To 7.8 Million Floridians

Rick Scott Was An Advisor To The Trump Administration On Plans To Repeal The ACA.  “ Kicking off a series of meetings with incoming Trump administration officials, Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday he hopes to help them devise a less costly alternative to Obamacare. Scott said he’s talking with Donald Trump every week or two while working closely with Rep. Tom Price, the president-elect’s choice to run the government agency that oversees Medicaid, Medicare and the landmark 2010 health-insurance law.” [McClatchy, 1/18/17]

Rick Scott Continued To Push For Repeal Even After It Failed In The Senate. “Gov. Rick Scott, whose political career is largely defined by opposition to the Affordable Care Act, still wants Republicans to repeal the federal health care law despite their apparent failure to do so. ‘Floridians simply cannot afford the high taxes and mandates of Obamacare. This law needs to be repealed,’ Scott spokeswoman Kerri Wyland said in an emailed statement.  […] Since November, Scott has written four op-eds stressing the urgency of repealing Obamacare. ‘There is absolutely no question that Obamacare must be repealed immediately so Americans can actually afford to purchase health insurance,’ Scott wrote.” [Orlando Sentinel, 7/18/17]

  1. Rick Scott Says Coverage For Pre-Existing Conditions Should Be Based On Rewarding “People For Caring For Themselves.”

Rick Scott On Care For People With Pre-existing Conditions:  “We’ve Got To Reward People For Caring For Themselves.”  “‘I believe that if you have a pre-existing condition, you need to still be able to get health care, so it’s very important to me,’ Scott told reporters in Tallahassee. ‘I think everybody ought to be able to get health care insurance. I do believe that you’ve got to start working to fix the law and that law caused our premiums to skyrocket. But I don’t believe in grand bargains, I believe in incrementally trying to make change. We’ve got a lot more competition … We’ve got to reward people for caring for themselves.’” [Tampa Bay Times, 6/13/18]

Rick Scott’s callous comments could leave millions of Floridians with conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer without a way to obtain affordable coverage.

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]

Rick Scott has refused to comment on the Trump administration’s latest attack on pre-existing conditions, a lawsuit to overturn the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions. The suit is being led by Rick Scott ally, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, but Scott himself has remained silent on the issue.

June 13:  Rick Scott Refused To Say Whether He Supported Trump’s Lawsuit.  “Gov. Rick Scott would not directly say Wednesday whether he supports a Trump administration move that critics say could wipe away health care protections for pre-existing conditions — a cornerstone of Obamacare — while saying he believes such protections are needed.” [Tampa Bay Times, 6/13/18]

  1. Rick Scott Has Refused To Expand Medicaid  

After briefly supporting a failed attempt at Medicaid expansion, for years Rick Scott in collaboration with the Republican majority in the Florida legislature have refused to expand the program to cover up to 650,000 Floridians.  

2015: In A “Victory For Rick Scott,” The Florida House Rejected Medicaid Expansion For the Third Time.  In June 2015, the Florida House rejected a plan 72-41 that would have covered as many as 650,000 residents. It was the third time that legislators had considered and spurned some version of health care expansion since passage of the Affordable Care Act. It represented a victory for Gov. Rick Scott who opposed the bill, which had already passed the state Senate on a 33-3 vote.

Care Force One Embarks on Second Week of National Tour

As Bus Rolls into West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin This Week, Here’s a Look Back at Week 1 On the Road with Protect Our Care

Beginning last Sunday, September 23, Protect Our Care hit the road, taking the health care fight to communities across the country in its first-ever nationwide bus tour. Kicking off in Bridgeport, Connecticut on Saturday, September 23, the bus, “Care Force One,” will make 48 stops across 23 states, covering nearly 12,000 miles.

Joining Protect Our Care’s leaders Brad Woodhouse and Leslie Dach on the journey across the United States are cancer survivor and health care advocate Laura Packard Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Angus King (I-ME), Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and more.  

At a time when health care is consistently ranked as a top issue for the public, the tour is highlighting that the Republican war on health care is very much alive, with Republican officials using legislation, regulations and the courts to continue their attacks on protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, for women, older Americans and Medicaid and Medicare enrollees.

 

Here’s a snapshot of the first week of the tour:

At Care Force One’s campaign kickoff, Senator Chris Murphy, Senator Richard Blumenthal and Ned Lamont were joined by nearly 100 community members outside a Bridgeport Community Health Center to call attention to Republicans’ ongoing war on health care care.

 

“Connecticut made the decision to try to make the Affordable Care Act work, not undermine it like many other states did,” said Senator Chris Murphy. “Think about the 20

 

million Americans who have been given access to health care, whose lives have been changed. Just imagine what that number would be if every other state approached the Affordable Care Act the way Connecticut did.”

On Day 2 of the tour, Senator Angus King and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01) joined state representatives and Mainers with pre-existing conditions at Portland City Hall to speak out against the devastating repercussions of health care repeal.

“We’ve got to continue to fight against repeal,” said Senator Angus King. “I call it a zombie proposal because it keeps coming back, and it’s a terrible idea and we have to keep trying to push that back to try and protect Medicare as well as the Affordable Care Act.”

From there, the bus rolled onto Banger where State Representatives Steve Stanley, Anne Perry, and Ryan Tipping joined former Mayor Joe Baldacci and Mainers with pre-existing conditions at Waterfront Park to speak out against the devastating repercussions of health care repeal.

“If I didn’t get the treatment I needed when I was younger, I would not be here today. Today, I work with women on the waitlist waiting for treatment. I have 43 women on my waitlist, 36 of which do not have insurance, and I can guarantee you they’d be eligible for Medicaid if it were to expand,” said Ashley Homstead, who works in the recovery community.

After Maine, Care Force One rolled into New York. In Binghamton, Ron Deutsch, Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, Jim Carr of the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans, and local residents rallied for health care and in Kingston Assemblymember Kevin Cahill and small business owner Pat Strong called out the Republican war on health care.

“I’m just a grandmother who has a granddaughter with disabilities,” said Linda Quilty. “She was born as what they call a ‘floppy baby,’ she just didn’t move… Now, she’s eight years old and she’s doing wonderfully well. My concern is – what happens to these babies who don’t get the assistance that she has had? Where do they go without all of that help?”

Then on day 4, the tour took to New Jersey, where pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Chuang, nurse Claudia Storichs, and small business owner Jim Parker were joined by Bruce Davis of the New Jersey NAACP, Seth Hahn of CWA New Jersey and Andy Kim. “I’m the father of two baby boys, and my youngest baby was someone who had significant health problems right from the very beginning,” said Kim. “I remember when the doctors told us that he was dangerously underweight and had real risk. And it reminded me of how many families in this country and this community have health care crises and are unsure of how they’ll be able to afford it.”

From there, the bus rolled on to Pennsylvania, where day 5 was spent with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, state Senator Vincent Hughes and State Representative Tim Briggs, County Executive and former Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper, Robin Stelly from Pennsylvania Health Action Network and residents living with pre-existing conditions who decried efforts by Republicans to roll back progress on health care.

“Preserving the protections from the Affordable Care Act is one of my top priorities,” State Senator Vincent Hughes said. “Not only were we able to expand Medicaid in the Keystone state, but we saw a dramatic increase in insured individuals. I don’t want to give up that progress and force those in need, especially people with pre-existing conditions, to be without the critical services they must have to survive.”

“Medicaid gave my little girl the ability to swallow and eat, to walk, even to make friends. Medicaid has filled the many gaps in her private insurance, and the protections provided in the ACA for pre-existing conditions and prohibitions on lifetime caps has meant that my daughter can still be covered by insurance,” said Erin Gabriel, whose three children all have special needs, joined Shapiro and the group of advocates.  

On day 6, Care Force One was in Ohio, where American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, Cleveland City Council Members Blaine Griffin and Phyllis Cleveland joined civil rights attorney Betsy Rader and local health care providers and patients to speak out about the devastating repercussions of health care repeal.

“What we’re seeing in the country right now is essentially a group of people that Trump basically represents, who want to keep power and control for those who are rich, raising healthcare costs for all of us,” Weingarten said.

This week, the bus rolls on to West Virginia. Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. More details about upcoming stops can be found here.