Monthly Archives

November 2018

“Crusade Against Obamacare”: The Trump Administration Advances Its War Against Affordable, Comprehensive Care

In response to “one of the boldest steps yet” that the Trump administration has taken to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, media, experts, and policymakers have continued to speak out against the Trump administration’s new 1332 waiver guidance.

Below is a look at what experts are saying:

Sarah Lueck, Senior Policy Analyst At Center On Budget And Policy Priorities: “Potentially What This Guidance And Concept Ideas Are Saying Is: ‘States, You Can Try To Do What Was Rejected In Congress.'” “‘Sarah Lueck, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told me the concepts were reminiscent of some ideas that emerged during the repeal-and-replace debate last year. She said they would allow states to ‘pursue policies that could reduce subsidies available for vulnerable populations, offer inadequate coverage options or leave people with unaffordable coverage…Potentially, what this guidance and concept ideas are saying is: ‘States, you can try to do what was rejected in Congress,’ ‘ Lueck added. ‘But whether it’s the bad ideas from the repeal debate or returning to the pre-ACA-style market, it’s not going to fare as well for people if they have a preexisting condition, if they’re older, low-income — those concerns are very real.’.” [Washington Post, 11/30/18]

Timothy Jost, Washington And Lee University Law Professor: With New Proposal, “Invariably, The Coverage Is Going To Be More Expensive For People Who Really Need Comprehensive Coverage.” “Invariably, the coverage is going to be more expensive for people who really need comprehensive coverage…As soon as any state proceeds to go somewhere with this, there will be legal challenge.” [Kaiser Health News, 11/29/18]

Sabrina Corlette, Senior Research Fellow At Georgetown University’s Center On Health Insurance Reforms: Latest Recommendations Continue A ‘Trend’ In The Trump Administration To ‘Break Up The Basic Framework Of The ACA. “‘What would happen is those products … will attract healthier, younger enrollees, leaving a smaller and sicker pool in the ACA-compliant plans,’ Corlette said. She thinks that this will lead to one of two consequences that could harm people with preexisting illnesses. ‘You’re an insurance company and you’re saying, ‘Okay, I can either offer these noncompliant options, get all the healthy people and subsidies to boot, or I can offer these ACA plans and get all the sick people.’ What are you going to do?,’ Corlette said. ‘You’re going to drop the ACA plans and offer these noncompliant plans. Or you can keep offering your ACA-compliant plans and jack up the price.’ Corlette said the latest recommendations continue a ‘trend’ in the Trump administration to ‘break up the basic framework of the ACA…They’ve been punching holes in the ACA’s minimum floor of protections for a while now,” she said. “I would say that this latest 1332 guidance and concepts is just part of that general push by the administration to sort of fray that basic national standard of protections and requirements.’” [Washington Post, 11/30/18]

University Of Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley Warns That Trump’s Suggested Waivers May Not Be Legally Sound.Would a future waiver be vulnerable? You bet…The ACA says that a state waiver must provide coverage at least as comprehensive as what the ACA provides. A state waiver that means loads of sick people won’t be able to get coverage, or won’t be able to get affordable coverage, shouldn’t pass muster.” [HuffPost, 11/30/18]

How the media is continuing to cover the new guidelines:

HuffPost: Trump Administration Announcement Carries On “Crusade Against ‘Obamacare’ That Voters Seemed To Reject Soundly In This Month’s Midterm Elections.” “The Trump administration just made it easier for states to rewrite some of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance rules, carrying on with a crusade against “Obamacare” that voters seemed to reject soundly in this month’s midterm elections…And among the 1332 waiver models that CMS published on Thursday was a prototype in which people could use federal tax credits to pay for alternative insurance options that exclude key benefits, like full prescription coverage or inpatient psychiatric care, and aren’t generally available to people with pre-existing conditions…Consumers who buy the plans can still face crushing medical bills if they get injured or sick and require treatment the policies don’t cover. Meanwhile, people who need or want more comprehensive coverage can end up paying more for their policies because the insurers who sell them have to raise premiums when healthier customers flock to the skimpier plans. A major goal of the Affordable Care Act was to avoid these problems ― or, at the very least, to mitigate them. By encouraging enrollment into these less-comprehensive plans, experts warned Thursday, the administration was all but certainly making it more difficult for the law to function as intended.” [HuffPost, 11/30/18]

Washington Post: Trump Administration Is Providing States With “Roadmap” For How They Can Sidestep Parts Of ACA. “The Trump administration is providing states with a roadmap for how they can sidestep parts of the Affordable Care Act in the name of giving more power back to the states. But critics fear the move will undermine key consumer protections established by the 2010 health-care law.” [Washington Post, 11/30/18]

CNN: “The Trump Administration Is Laying Out For States How They Can Use Their Sweeping New Powers To Overhaul — And Likely Undermine — Obamacare.” “The Trump administration is laying out for states how they can use their sweeping new powers to overhaul — and likely undermine — Obamacare…It’s the latest move by the Trump administration to weaken the Affordable Care Act from the inside after the collapse of Republican efforts to repeal it altogether, this time by targeting the subsidies, which are considered crucial to keeping insurance markets working well. The new waiver powers could widen the divide in health care coverage among the states, which the Affordable Care Act sought to unify with nationwide standards for benefits and assistance. Red states may seek to provide greater access to alternative plans, while blue states could try to bolster their Obamacare markets.” [CNN, 11/29/18]

New York Times: New Policy “Upends A Premise Of The Affordable Care Act.” “The new policy outlined by the administration on Thursday upends a premise of the Affordable Care Act: that federal subsidies can be used only for insurance that meets federal standards and is purchased through public marketplaces, also known as insurance exchanges. Under the new policy, states could use federal subsidies to help people pay for employer-sponsored insurance. Consumers could combine federal funds with employer contributions to buy other types of insurance.” [New York Times, 11/29/18]

Slate: “The New Guidance Is Just The Latest Step In The Trump Administration’s Long Quest To Dismantle Much Of Obamacare Through Executive Fiat.” “One of the administration’s suggestions is to restructure the law’s insurance subsidies, which help low and middle-income Americans pay their monthly premiums, so that they’re tied to age instead of income. (This would effectively give more help to high-earners and less to low-earners). Another is to let people spend those subsidies on cheap health plans that don’t meet all of Obamacare’s coverage requirements. (This would likely drive up costs for some people who needed more comprehensive coverage). It’s not clear that these sorts of changes would hold up in court. But if they did, such moves would likely undercut Obamacare’s consumer protections, including for Americans with pre-existing conditions. The new guidance is just the latest step in the Trump administration’s long quest to dismantle much of Obamacare through executive fiat.” [Slate, 11/29/18]

Kaiser Health News: Experts Predict Ideas Would Foster Parallel Market, Drive Up Premiums For Those Who Remain In ACA Plans. “Still, coupled with other ongoing efforts by the Trump administration to gut Obamacare, policy experts predict the ideas would further foster a parallel market of cheaper, less robust coverage that could draw younger or healthier consumers, but drive up premiums for those who remain in ACA market plans.” [Kaiser Health News, 11/29/18]

Axios: “This Is One Of The Administration’s Most Significant Anti-ACA Moves To Date — If It Works.”This is one of the administration’s most significant anti-ACA moves to date — if it works. States that ask for everything they’re now allowed to, and get it, could set up an insurance market that looks a lot different from what the ACA envisioned.” [Axios, 11/30/18]

BuzzFeed News: Administration’s Guidance Is “One Of The Boldest Steps Yet” Trump Has Taken To Sabotage ACA.It is one of the boldest steps yet taken by the Trump administration to take down the building blocks of the Affordable Care Act despite the law remaining on the books…The Obama administration had taken the opposite approach. While it allowed for people to have insurance plans outside of the ACA’s regulations in certain circumstances, the individual markets were bolstered because only regulated plans qualified for subsidies. Since taking office, Trump has encouraged the proliferation of skimpier off-market plans. With ACA repeal off the table for now, this has become the foremost health policy fight in Washington.” [BuzzFeed News, 11/29/18]

The Independent: After Failing To Dismantle The ACA, The Trump Administration Is Now Offering States Suggestions On How To Undermine It. “The federal government has issued suggestions to help states undermine the waiver system of Obamacare, helping to weaken the implementation of the act. Donald Trump and the republican administration tried and failed to completely dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, soon after Mr Trump was sworn in as president. However, the administration is now helping states apply for alternative types of insurance, which could ultimately undermine Obamacare.” [The Independent, 11/29/18]

And how policymakers are responding:

Reps. Frank Pallone And Richard Neal, Top Democrats On House Energy And Ways And Means Committees: “We Are Concerned That This Guidance Is Unlawful, Will Raise Costs For Older And Vulnerable Americans, And Will Eliminate Protections For Individuals With Pre-existing Conditions.” “The interpretation disregards both the plain text of the statute, as well as the congressional intent behind Section 1332, which was to allow states to innovate to expand coverage, affordability, and comprehensive benefits. Having ‘access’ to coverage is not the same thing as having coverage, and the Administration’s attempt to read ‘access’ into the statute is transparently motivated by an ideological opposition to the benefits and protections afforded by the ACA.” [Letter To Sec. Azar, 11/29/18]

 

Roundup: Trump Administration Urges States To “Demolish” Basic Structure Of Affordable Care Act

Today, the Trump administration announced its latest effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act by mounting an unprecedented attack on the ACA’s marketplaces.

Here’s what media, experts, and patient groups had to say:

Washington Post: Trump Administration “Demolishing” Basic Rule Of Affordable Care Act That Federal Subsidies May Only Be Used To Purchase Plans In Federal Marketplace. “The Trump administration is urging states to tear down pillars of the Affordable Care Act, demolishing a basic rule that federal insurance subsidies can be used only for people buying health plans in marketplaces created under the law…The changes go beyond a variety of other steps Trump administration health officials have taken in the past year to weaken the ACA, which the president has opposed vociferously…The new steps go further by undercutting the basic ACA structure of the insurance marketplaces created for those who cannot get affordable health benefits through a job.” [Washington Post, 11/29/18]

American Lung Association: New 1332 Waiver Guidance “Would Further Erode Patient Protections, Undermine Care For People With Lung Disease.” [American Lung Association, 11/29/18]

Wall Street Journal: “The Waivers Have The Potential To Be One Of The Most Decisive Factors In Letting States Go Separate Ways On Health Care.” “The waivers have the potential to be one of the most decisive factors in letting states go separate ways on health care. Some are likely to keep the current system, where premium tax credits go to consumers who buy ACA-compliant plans on the exchanges, while others may upend much of that system altogether.” [Wall Street Journal, 11/29/18]

Larry Levitt, Senior Vice President Of Kaiser Family Foundation: New Guidance Allows States To Offer Subsidies For Plans That Do Not Cover Pre-existing Conditions And Paves Way For States To Increase Subsidies For Higher-income People And Reduce Subsidies For Lower-income People. “The Trump administration has filled in details of ACA waiver guidance, illustrating how states could restructure premium subsidies, including subsidizing lower premium plans that don’t cover pre-existing conditions…Under the new ACA waiver rules, states could restructure premium subsidies so they are based only on age and not by income, increasing subsidies for higher-income people and reducing them for lower-income people.”“ [Larry Levitt, 11/29/18]

Sabrina Corlette, Senior Research Fellow At Georgetown University’s Center On Health Insurance Reforms: It’s “Really Hard To See How Any Of These Concepts (Except Reinsurance) Can Meet The Statutory Guidelines.” [Sabrina Corlette, 11/29/18]

HealthLeaders Media: “Verma Lambastes ACA, Giving States 4 Ways To Bypass It.” [HealthLeaders Media, 11/29/18]

And here’s how legislators reacted:

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi: Trump Administration Is “Cynically Working To Make Health Insurance More Expensive And To Leave More Americans Without Dependable Coverage At All.” “The American people just delivered an overwhelming verdict against Republicans’ cruel assault on families’ health care.  But instead of heeding the will of the people or the requirements of the law, the Trump Administration is still cynically working to make health insurance more expensive and to leave more Americans without dependable coverage at all.The Trump Administration is trying to push more Americans into junk insurance plans that do not cover essential health care, leaving families exposed to crushing out-of-pocket costs after an injury or illness.  Meanwhile, Republicans continue to push their monstrous lawsuit to strike down the vital protections for people with pre-existing conditions.” [Democratic Leader, 11/29/18]

Sen. Patty Murray, Ranking Member Of Senate Health, Education, Labor, And Pensions Committee: “The Trump Administration Is Brazenly Warping A Tool Meant To Help States Innovate And Lower Prices So It Can Further Gut Protections For People With Pre-existing Conditions And Drive Up Health Care Costs.” “These new templates are nothing more than a how-to guide for health care sabotage. The Trump administration is brazenly warping a tool meant to help states innovate and lower prices so it can further gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions and drive up health care costs. Congress created these waivers and included guardrails to allow for innovation while making sure people could get high-quality, affordable coverage—however the Trump Administration’s guidance takes us in the opposite direction.” [U.S. Senate Committee On Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, 11/29/18]

Sen. Ron Wyden, Ranking Member Of Senate Finance Committee: Trump Administration Has Created “Fast Lane To Flood Health Care Markets With Junk Plans And Quarantine Older Americans And Those With Pre-existing Conditions Apart From Everyone Else.” “The Trump administration has created a fast lane to flood health care markets with junk plans and quarantine older Americans and those with pre-existing conditions apart from everyone else…Section 1332 was created to generate new and better ideas that improve families’ health – the Trump administration’s approach warms over old and bad ideas that increase costs for consumers and lowers the quality of care. Trump’s sabotage crusade continues to deprive working Americans with the health care security they need, and today’s news accelerates America’s slide back to the days when health care was reserved for the healthy and wealthy.” [U.S. Senate Committee On Finance, 11/29/18]

Trump Administration Doubles Down on Health Care Sabotage

In response to new reporting showing that the Trump Administration is once again urging states to skirt important consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act, Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“In the wake of an election that sent the unmistakable message that Americans want an immediate end to the GOP war on health care, it’s outrageous to see the Trump Administration make one of its boldest acts of sabotage ever. Once again, the Trump Administration wants to deny millions of Americans protections for pre-existing conditions, and guaranteed coverage for women’s health care and cancer treatments. This is the opposite of what the American people said they wanted, and shows Republicans clearly haven’t learned the lesson of the 2018 elections.”

Read more from the Washington Post here.

Trump, GOP War on Health Care Throws Children Under the Bus Study Finds

Washington DC — For the first time in a decade, the number of uninsured children nationwide has increased, up to 5 percent from 4.7 percent in 2016, according to a recent report released by Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. This historic reversal of progress comes on the heels of the Trump Administration’s continued sabotage of health care, plus Republican state officials’ stubborn refusal to expand Medicaid, despite widespread support. In response to the study, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, said:

“President Trump has led a Republican war on health care that has claimed many victims, but most shocking and appalling of all is its impact on our nation’s most vulnerable Americans: our children. After decades of progress, last year more than a quarter million more children were uninsured than in 2016 due to President Trump and the GOP’s repeal and sabotage agenda.  This is an outrageous display of the Trump Administration’s total disregard for Americans’ health care. Whether by voting to expand Medicaid or by voting to replace pro-repeal Republicans with health care champions, the American people have made it crystal clear that they don’t want to give up an inch of progress on health care anymore and they are demanding an end to the Republican war on health care.”

 

Key Reasons for the decline in children’s coverage:

Divergent State Policies Have Led To Vastly Different Changes In The Children’s Uninsured Rate Across States — For Instance, The Uninsured Rate For Children Increased At Triple The Rate In States That Did Not Expand Medicaid As It Did In States That Expanded Medicaid. “In previous years, states have moved in similar but not uniform directions, reflecting the many ways state policy decisions can impact eligibility and enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The absence of significant progress across the country suggests that even states with the best intentions were unable to withstand strong national currents to protect children from losing health coverage…Three-quarters of the children who lost coverage between 2016 and 2017 live in states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage to parents and other low-income adults. The uninsured rates for children increased at almost triple the rate in non-expansion states than in states that have expanded Medicaid.”

Trump And His Republican Allies Have Repeatedly Tried To Repeal And Sabotage The Affordable Care Act And Have Slashed Funding For Outreach. “These national currents include a lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful congressional effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and cap federal Medicaid funding, as well as an unprecedented delay by Congress that allowed CHIP funding to lapse temporarily. In addition, Congress repealed the ACA’s individual mandate and the Trump Administration made numerous efforts to undermine the ACA Marketplaces, including dramatically cutting outreach and enrollment grants and shortening the open enrollment period.

Trump’s Punitive Immigration Policy Deter Children From Enrolling In Medicaid And CHIP. “Finally, one-quarter of all children under 18 living in the United States have a parent who is an immigrant. Several policies targeting immigrant communities are likely deterring parents from enrolling their eligible children in Medicaid or CHIP despite the fact that most of these children are U.S. citizens.

“All of these changes in the national political and policy realm mark a sharp reversal after many years of successful efforts to reduce the uninsured rate for children and families.”

Protect Our Care Urges Congress to Back Democratic Nominee For Speaker

Washington DC — Following today’s overwhelming vote in the House Democratic caucus, Protect Our Care issued the following statement congratulating Nancy Pelosi on being the Democratic nominee for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2018, Democrats won more seats and by a larger vote margin than at any point since Watergate and it was fueled by a health care focused campaign. The Republican nominee for Speaker is Kevin McCarthy, who has voted multiple times to repeal health care and roll back protections for millions of Americans.  

“Protect Our Care is proud to stand with and congratulate Nancy Pelosi on being selected by her colleagues to be the Democratic nominee for the next Speaker of the House,” said Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care. “Leader Pelosi led the Democratic wave that ended Republican control of the House and today she was resoundingly picked to be the Democratic Nominee for Speaker. With today’s vote, the House of Representative is on track to have an experienced, pro-health care leader at the helm. Pelosi’s hard-work has made way for millions of Americans to gain quality health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and defeat Republicans repeal-and-sabotage agenda. Members of Congress who want to stand up for health care, ought to back the Democratic nominee for Speaker as Republicans offer a warmed-over version of the same repeal agenda that voters just rejected.”

“With impeccable discipline, Leader Pelosi made health care the number one issue in the midterms and voters responded – flipping as many as 40 seats held by pro-repeal Republicans,” said Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care. “Make no mistake, the American people took to the polls this election to make their voices heard and overwhelmingly voted for pro-health care Democrats. The Democratic nominee for Speaker of the House is a pro-health care leader with a proven track record of getting results. The Republican nominee for Speaker will do nothing but continue the Trump Administration’s repeal-and-sabotage agenda that fails hard-working Americans every day. The choice could not be more clear.”

NEW: 4 Key Points – Kaiser Post Election Poll Shows Voters Reject GOP War on Health Care and Want Congress and States to Act

The regular Kaiser Family Health Tracking Poll today gives another post-election confirmation that Republicans repeal and sabotage agenda for health care has been rejected by the American people.

See for yourself.

Four Key Points:

  1. The Affordable Care Act is viewed favorably by 53 percent of people – a 13 point margin. It’s the largest level of support for the ACA since after the 2010 election.
  2. 87 percent of people said it’s important (65 percent very important) to protect prohibitions against health insurance companies denying coverage because of people’s medical history.
  3. If Trump’s lawsuit to overturn protections for people with pre-existing conditions succeeds, 70 percent of people want their state to re-establish the protections.
  4. For people who live in states that haven’t yet expanded Medicaid, 59 percent of people support expansion and only 34 percent oppose it.

New Poll: Trump Administration’s Sabotage Efforts Harm Open Enrollment  

Washington DC — The Kaiser Family Foundation released its November tracking poll and found that the Trump Administration’s ongoing sabotage campaign is preventing the American people from signing up for coverage. This isn’t surprising given the Trump Administration’s repeated sabotage of the open enrollment process by cutting outreach resources and shortening the enrollment time period. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in response:

“The fact that people do not know they have until December 15th to sign up for coverage is another proof point in the Trump Administration’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act. We all know open enrollment is a critical time for Americans to get the coverage they need. But Donald Trump and Republicans continue to do nothing to get the word out. We must redouble our efforts to let Americans know they only have until December 15th to sign up for coverage. In many cases, premiums are lower this year, making plans more affordable for millions of families across the nation. People who need insurance should sign up for coverage on HealthCare.gov before the December 15th deadline.”

The tracking poll showed that:

  • Only one in four Americans know the deadline to sign up for coverage during open enrollment.
  • The poll shows 77 percent of Americans said either they did not know, refused to answer, or gave the wrong date for the open enrollment deadline.
  • Only three in ten people who would buy coverage reported hearing or seeing information about how to do so in the past 30 days

 

BACKGROUND:

Between 2016 And 2018, The Trump Administration Has Cut Funding For Groups That Help People Sign Up For Coverage By 84 Percent. After cutting funding for navigator groups that help people sign up for coverage from $63 million in 2016 to $36 million in 2017, the Trump administration made yet another round of cuts in 2018, leaving just $10 million in funding for health navigator groups. Since 2016, Trump has cut navigator funding by 84 percent.

Health Navigators, Like Jodi Ray At The University Of South Florida, Say Cuts To Navigator Programs Prevent Them From Adequately Letting People Know That Open Enrollment Is Happening. Ray said, “We don’t have the people to provide the enrollment assistance nor to do the outreach and marketing to let people know what’s happening.”

This Year, 800 Counties Served By The Federal Marketplace Are Operating Without Any Federally Funded Navigators. This is more than six times as many counties served by the federal marketplace that operated without federally funded navigators in 2016, when 127 counties lacked such a navigator.  

The Trump Administration Wants Navigator Groups To Push Consumers To Sign Up For Junk Coverage That Is Exempt From Covering Prescription Drugs And Hospitalization Instead Of Comprehensive Plans. The Administration announced in July that it would encourage navigator groups to use their remaining funding to push consumers to sign up for junk health plans, which cover few benefits and notorious for the fraud they attract.

In 2017, The Trump Administration Cut The Open Enrollment Advertising budget By 90 Percent. As ABC News summarized, “In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spent $100 million on Obamacare advertising and outreach, but for [2017]’s open enrollment period, CMS plans on spending $10 million.” CMS chose not to increase the budget for 2019.

A full timeline of the Trump administration’s crusade to sabotage open enrollment is below:

October 2018

  • The Trump administration issues guidance that allows federal subsidies to be used to purchase junk plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, a move expected to worsen ACA risk pools.
  • Trump administration announces scheduled maintenance on the open enrollment website, preventing people from signing up for coverage on Sundays from 12:00 AM – 12:00 PM.

August 2018

  • Trump administration finalizes rule for bare-bones short-term plans that are exempt from key consumer protections, such as the requirement that insurance covers prescription drugs, maternity care, and hospitalization.

July 2018

  • Trump Administration slashes funding for non-profit health navigator groups that help people shop for coverage, from $36 million to $10 million. CMS encourages groups to use the remaining funds to push people to sign up for junk plans that skirt important consumer protections.

July 2018

  • Trump Administration limits access to assistance for consumers who want to enroll in marketplace coverage. This change removes the requirement that every area has at least two “navigator” groups to provide consumer assistance and that one be local. Now, just one group could cover entire states or groups of states.

December 2017

  • Congressional Republicans pass their tax scam, which doubles 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.

October 2017

  • The Trump Administration dramatically cuts in-person assistance to help people sign up for 2018 health coverage.

September 2017

  • The Administration orders the Department of Health and Human Services’ regional directors to stop participating in Open Enrollment events. Mississippi Health Advocacy Program Executive Director Roy Mitchell says, “I didn’t call it sabotage…But that’s what it is.”

August 2017

  • The Administration cuts the outreach advertising budget for Open Enrollment by 90 percent, from $100 million to just $10 million – which resulted in as many as 1.1 million fewer people getting covered.

July 2017

  • The Trump Administration uses funding intended to support health insurance enrollment to launch a multimedia propaganda campaign against the Affordable Care Act.

April 2017

  • The Trump Administration cuts the number of days people could sign up for coverage during open enrollment by half, from 90 days to 45 days.

January 2017

  • Also on January 20th, the Department of Health and Human Services begins to remove information on how to sign up for the Affordable Care Act.
  • The Trump Administration pulls funding for outreach and advertising for the final days of 2017 enrollment. This move is estimated to have reduced enrollment by nearly 500,000.

Statement From Leslie Dach, Chair of Protect Our Care On Problem Solvers Proposals Ahead Of The House Democratic Caucus Leadership Election

Washington DC — In a statement released on Monday by members of the Problem Solvers, a caucus of nine House Democrats outlined its threat to withhold support for Leader Pelosi’s nomination for Speaker. The caucus stated its proposals would “help spur immediate action on health care, immigration and infrastructure.” Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care issued the following statement:

“The way to protect and improve health care isn’t by making demands that were drawn up by a group that includes Republicans who voted to repeal health care — many of whom were defeated by Democrats just a few weeks ago. The way to truly protect and improve health care is by placing the Member of Congress whose leadership gave us the Affordable Care Act and led the blue wave that will protect us going forward in the Speaker’s chair. Let’s take the fight to the opponents of affordable health care — not its champions.”

Seema Verma and Donald Trump Continue to Hide Behind Lies As Americans Continue to Worry About their Care

“Instead of a super secret so-called contingency plan which no one actually believes exists, just end the lawsuit,” said Brad Woodhouse.

Washington, D.C. – In response to CMS Administrator Seema Verma telling the Washington Examiner that the Trump Administration has a secret “contingency plan” should their lawsuit to upend the American health care system go through, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement:

“The best contingency plan for protecting American health care – and especially for those with pre-existing conditions – is for the Administration to withdraw its support for this disastrous lawsuit and instead defend the law of the land. The American people have made their voices loud and clear: they support the Affordable Care Act, they want people with pre-existing medical conditions to be protected from discrimination by insurance companies, and they oppose any and all GOP efforts to undermine their health care. Instead of a super secret so-called contingency plan which no one actually believes exists, just end the lawsuit.”

 

THE CLAIM:

CMS Chief Seema Verma Claims That She And The Trump Administration Have A Contingency Plan If The Trump-GOP Lawsuit To End Protections For Pre-existing Conditions is successful [Washington Examiner]:

Seema Verma told reporters that “we do have contingency plans” if the healthcare law is struck down — specifically the provision aimed at ensuring people with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer or diabetes, have access to coverage.

But Chief Seema Verma declined to describe the backup plan, saying that “it wouldn’t be appropriate to share details because it may or may not be needed.”

 

THE REALITY:

If Judge Reed O’Connor rules in favor of the 20 Republican state officials and Trump’s Department of Justice, Seema Verma and Donald Trump will own the consequences to the American people. And those consequences are serious. Critical Affordable Care Act protections could vanish overnight, unleashing — as the Trump Administration itself admitted — “chaos” in our entire health care system.

  • 17 million people could lose their coverage in a single year, leading to a 50 percent increase in the uninsured rate
  • Protections for 130 million people with pre-existing conditions, their own, could end.
  • Medicaid expansion, currently covering 15 million Americans, could vanish.
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs, would be eliminated.
  • Children would no longer be allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits? Gone.
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women and people over age 50? Nope.
  • Limits on out-of-pocket costs? Eliminated.
  • Small business tax credits? Done.
  • Marketplace tax credits for up to 9 million people? Not anymore.

Back To Business: Drug Prices Continue To Rise Under Trump

Washington, DC — Just days following the midterm elections that gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives, the Wall Street Journal reports that Pfizer will resume jacking up prices while the Trump administration continues its repeal-and-sabotage agenda. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in response:

“To no one’s surprise, now that the election is over, it’s back to business as usual for the drug companies, President Trump, and the Republicans who will allow them to charge consumers whatever they want for life-saving and sustaining prescription drugs. Not two weeks ago, voters delivered the House of Representatives to Democrats and elected scores of other Democrats to public office on the issue of health care — all in a repudiation of the Republicans’ repeal and sabotage agenda and their failure to do anything to address the high cost of prescription drugs.  Republicans might be living by the adage that they are going to dance with the one who brought them, but if they fail to work with the new Democratic majority in the House to address drug prices they may just be dancing their way out of office in two years time.”

 

BACKGROUND:

Wall Street Journal: Pfizer To Raise Prices On 41 Drugs In January. “Pfizer plans to raise the list prices of 41 of its prescription drugs, or 10 percent of its portfolio, in January, according to a person familiar with the matter. The plans mean Pfizer would resume its practice of raising drug list prices after the company rolled back some increases in July under criticism from President Trump.” [Wall Street Journal, 11/16/18]

Bloomberg: Pharma Earnings Reveal “Trump’s Most Visible Efforts To Strong-arm Them On Prices Hasn’t Caused Much Pain.” “Earnings are now in at most of the biggest pharmaceutical firms, and one thing is clear from their results: One of President Donald Trump’s most visible efforts to strong-arm them on prices hasn’t caused much pain. Pfizer Inc. was called out by Trump in a July tweet over mid-year price increases the drug giant pushed through on a number of its medicines, and the public shaming prompted the company to roll back the increases. That was followed by appeasement from other big pharma firms including Merck & Co., Novartis AG and Roche Holding AG. It’s been obvious from the start that these moves were cosmetic. Roche, for example, promised to forego further price increases this year only after it had already enacted hikes on some of its biggest sellers. But the earnings reports are further proof that efforts intended to mollify the president didn’t involve much if any sacrifice.” [Bloomberg, 10/31/18]

In October, Pfizer Announced That It Would Return To “Business As Normal,” Raising Prices Despite Trump Pressure. “Pfizer CEO Ian Read said the company will return to ‘business as normal’ on its drug pricing in January, after agreeing to hold off on price increases earlier this year following pressure from President Trump…Trump has touted his efforts to get drug companies to hold off on price increases. Fighting high drug prices has been a major focus of his presidency. Pfizer, though, affirmed on Tuesday that the price increases could return in January, given that the agreement only lasted until then.” [The Hill, 10/30/18]