Monthly Archives

February 2019

Costs Up, Coverage Down: The Real HHS 2018 Annual Report

Washington, DC — Today, as HHS released its 2018 annual report and Secretary Azar gave a speech on drug pricing, one thing has become clear: the Trump administration does not want the American people to know the real impact of its war on health care — higher costs and less coverage. Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, issued a statement in response to Azar’s claims in his speech:

“While Secretary Azar is attempting to tout his record at HSS, Americans are suffering from the truth. The administration is  is hiding the real impact of its agenda: drug prices are going up, drug companies are enjoying massive tax giveaways, millions no longer have health insurance because of the administration’s sabotage campaign, and protections for pre-existing conditions are under attack. The claim that President Trump and Secretary Azar’s HHS improved America’s health care is ludicrous. The real story is that costs went up, coverage went down, and the American people lost out.”

Despite what’s in their annual report, we know what their record is:

  1. Drug companies continue to increase prices while reaping billions of dollars from the Trump tax bill and seeing massive profits. The Trump tax scam means billions of dollars in tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies. An Axios study found that 21 health care companies collectively expect to gain $10 billion in tax savings during 2018 alone. Most of the tax break windfall for health care companies is going toward share buybacks, dividends, acquisitions and paying down debt. Pharmaceutical companies raked in more than $30 billion in profits in the third quarter of 2018, with Pfizer alone bringing in $4.1 billion — the highest of any publicly traded health care company.  Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies continue to increase prices. In January 2019 alone, Pfizer and Novartis announced price increases on dozens of drugs, including increasing the cost of a breast cancer medication to $12,000 for 21 pills. All in all, nearly 30 drugmakers are expected to raise prices in 2019. One drug industry lobbyist has said that drug companies’ limited concessions are “a calculated risk” summarizing big pharma’s strategy to play the Trump administration: “take these nothing-burger steps and give the administration things they can take credit for.”

  1. Under Trump, the uninsured rate has risen to its highest levels since the Affordable Care Act took effect. Gallup’s quarterly health survey reveals that the uninsured rate has risen to the highest rate since the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion was completed, leaping from 10.8 percent in 2016 to 13.7 percent in 2018 and representing about 7 million more Americans who are now uninsured. A major reason for this increase? Trump’s relentless health care sabotage. Among the factors contributing to this uninsured rate, Gallup cited increased premiums, major cuts to outreach funding and open enrollment, slashed funding to health care navigator groups, and Trump’s hostility to the ACA.
  2. Sec. Azar and the Trump administration have expanded access to junk plans that are allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. In August, the Trump administration finalized a rule that allows consumers to purchase junk plans with an expanded duration of 364 days, as opposed to the the previously allowed maximum of three months, and renew such plans for up to three years. Since finalizing the rule, the Trump administration has urged navigator groups that help people sign up for coverage to push consumers toward junk plans and has issued guidance urging states to let ACA subsidies be used to purchase these skimpy plans. Junk plans are notoriously ripe for fraud, drive up health care premiums, leave consumers with worse coverage and at risk for bankruptcy.
  3. The Trump administration’s health care sabotage means Americans are paying more for premiums than they should. While Azar tries to claim that premiums have stabilized under him, health care analyst Charles Gaba has found that marketplace premiums are roughly 8 percent higher than they would be absent GOP sabotage. With GOP sabotage, premiums increased 2.8 percent in 2019. Absent such sabotage, premiums would have decreased 5.37 percent.
  4. The Trump administration has encouraged states to impose onerous Medicaid work requirements designed to kick people off of their health coverage — so far, more than 18,000 have lost coverage in Arkansas alone. In 2017, the Trump administration encouraged states to adopt policies that make it harder for people to access health care through Medicaid. One such way is by requiring Medicaid enrollees to work in order to maintain health coverage through Medicaid. So far, the Trump administration has approved waivers in seven states — AZ, AR, IN, KY, MI, MS, and WI — that will prevent people from being covered through Medicaid unless they meet restrictive requirements. Similar waivers are pending in eight states: AL, OH, OK, SD, TN, UT, and VA. Already, more than 18,000 Arkansans have lost coverage because of these burdensome requirements.
  5. Secretary Azar and the Trump administration have engaged in a years-long effort designed to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, going so far as to argue in court that protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be overturned. Trump along with Republican attorneys general and governors have already sued to try to overturn our health care laws in the Texas lawsuit. Just several weeks ago, President Trump boasted that the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions would be “terminated” through the case. A complete list of the administration’s sabotage efforts is below and can be found in our health care sabotage tracker:

February 2019

  • Trump predicts the Affordable Care Act will be “terminated” through the Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the law.
  • In an effort to restrict access to information about women’s reproductive health, the Trump administration removes web pages associated with the ACA and its contraceptive coverage from HHS’s Office of Population Affairs website.

January 2019

  • Thanks to GOP sabotage, the uninsured rate surges to the its highest level since 2014. Roughly seven million fewer people are estimated to have health care now than did two years ago.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposes changes to the ACA’s benefit and payment parameters, reducing subsidies available to those who purchase health care through the exchange, increasing premiums, and raising  the out-of-pocket maximum for people with employer-sponsored health care.
  • In a win for big Pharma, the Trump administration proposes changes to the rebate system that would raise premiums, benefit pharmaceutical companies, and contain no mandate to lower list prices of drugs.

December 2018

  • Hand-picked Federal Judge Reed O’Connor rules in favor of twenty conservative states to overturn the Affordable Care Act, jeopardizing coverage for 17 million people and ripping away the ACA’s vital consumer protections such as protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Under the Trump administration’s relentless sabotage, the uninsured rate increases for the first time since 2010. As the Kaiser Family Foundation finds, “In 2017, the uninsured rate reversed course and, for the first time since the passage of the ACA, rose significantly to 10.2% [from 10%].”

November 2018

  • Trump administration issues new guidance urging states to “tear down basic pillars of the Affordable Care Act, demolishing a basic rule” that federal subsidies can only be used to purchase ACA-compliant plans. Experts warn against this move, saying it will push affordable, comprehensive care further out of reach for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
  • Under the Trump administration, the number of uninsured children grows for the first time in nearly a decade. After a decade of steady decreases in the number of uninsured children, in 2017 the number of uninsured children increased from 3.6 million to 3.9 million.

October 2018

  • Republicans appoint Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is known to be hostile to the Affordable Care Act.
  • 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.

September 2018

  • The Trump administration’s Department of Justice joins twenty conservative states in court in opening arguments to argue that the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be overturned.
  • Nearly 4,600 Arkansans are unable to meet Arkansas’ reporting requirements for the state’s Medicaid work requirements and lose Medicaid coverage.

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

  • CMS halts risk adjustment payments, that enable insurance companies to cover everyone, regardless of whether they are healthy or sick.
  • 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.
  • President Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has previously forced a young woman to continue a pregnancy against her will and has criticized Justice Roberts for upholding the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality.

June 2018

  • Department of Justice takes to the courts to argue that insurance companies should be able to discriminate against as many as 130 million Americans with a pre-existing condition.
  • Republican coalition, the Health Policy Consensus Group, released their latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, let insurance companies charge older people an age tax, and deny key coverage for basic services like maternity care.
  • Trump Administration finalizes proposal to expand access to association health plans that skirt key consumer protections.

May 2018

  • President Trump boasts about health care sabotage: “We will have gotten rid of a majority of Obamacare.”
  • Trump Administration enlists help of former drug lobbyist in writing its drug plan.
  • Congressional Republicans try to use annual farm bill to authorize $65 million in taxpayer funding to set up association health plans, which can  exclude prescription drug coverage, mental health care, and maternity care.

April 2018

  • House Republicans vote on a balanced budget amendment that would cut Medicaid by $700 billion over ten years, $114 billion in a single year alone.
  • 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.

March 2018

  • Republicans sabotage efforts to pass a bipartisan bill that would have stabilized Affordable Care Act marketplaces by insisting the bill restrict access to abortion.

February 2018

  • The Trump Administration announces that it will expand access to short-term health plans that do not have to comply with key consumer protection provisions required by the Affordable Care Act.
  • Urban Institute calculates that repeal of the individual mandate and expansion of short term plans will increase individual market premiums by an average 18.2 percent in 2019.
  • Trump Administration releases budget that calls for the Affordable Care Act to be replaced by Graham-Cassidy, in a move that experts predict would reduce health coverage for 32 million Americans.

January 2018

  • The Trump Administration announces that it will support states that impose onerous work requirements on Americans covered by Medicaid, and approves Kentucky’s worst-in-the-nation waiver the next day.
  • The Trump Administration announces a move to allow providers to discriminate by allowing them to deny patient care for almost any reason.
  • The Trump Administration makes plans to announce even more exemptions from the requirement people have health coverage before this provision is repealed altogether.

December 2017

  • The Trump Administration proposes a rule to expand association health plans, which would gut consumer protections, raise costs for people with pre-existing conditions and further destabilize the insurance markets.
  • 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.

November 2017

  • Republicans refuse to move forward on the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill to address the CSR crisis even though it had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

October 2017

  • The Trump Administration takes direct aim at birth control by rolling back a rule that guaranteed women access to contraception. (A court has since questioned the legality of the action.)
  • President Trump signs an Executive Order to roll back key consumer protections that will result in garbage insurance, raise premiums, reduce coverage and again expose millions of Americans to discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
  • The Trump Administration dramatically cuts in-person assistance to help people sign up for 2018 health coverage.
  • After threatening for months to stop funding cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) that help lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, the Trump Administration stops the payments altogether. The CBO finds that failing to make these payments will increase premiums by 20% and add nearly $200 billion to the debt.

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.
  • President Trump, again, threatens to end cost-sharing reduction payments.

June 2017

  • Senate Republicans embark on a monthslong failed attempt to pass BCRA, Skinny Repeal and Graham-Cassidy, all repeal bills that would have caused millions of Americans to lose their health coverage and raised premiums by double digits for millions more. They would have ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of children, seniors and people with disabilities at risk.

May 2017

  • House Republicans vote for and pass a health care repeal bill that would cause 23 million people to lose coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It would have imposed an age tax and allowed insurers to charge people over 50 five times more for coverage and ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of seniors, children and people with disabilities in jeopardy.

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.
  • In an effort to convince Democrats to negotiate a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, President Trump threatens to cut off cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) that help low-income marketplace customers pay for out-of-pocket costs.

March 2017

  • The Trump Administration sends a letter to governors encouraging them to submit proposals which include provisions such as work requirements that make it harder for Medicaid beneficiaries to get affordable care and increase the number of people who are uninsured.

February 2017

  • The Trump Administration proposes a rule to weaken Marketplace coverage and raise premiums for millions of middle-class families.

January 2017

  • On his first day in office, President Trump signs an Executive Order directing the administration to identify every way it can unravel the Affordable Care Act.
  • 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.

Court Affirms Speaker Pelosi and Democratic Health Care Champions in Congress’s Fight to Protect Health Care From the Trump Texas Lawsuit

Washington, DC–Yesterday evening, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a ruling that allows the United States House of Representatives to intervene in the Texas, et. al. vs. United States, et. al. case which would overturn the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, issued a statement in response:

“The Fifth Circuit correctly ruled that House Democrats can defend the American people against the Trump administration’s all out attack on America’s health care. Despite the GOP lies about protecting people with pre-existing conditions, President Trump himself bragged that the Trump Texas lawsuit would ‘terminate’ the ACA. This ruling is just another reminder that Speaker Pelosi and Democratic health care champions in Congress are not going to rest until every attack on our health care is stopped dead in its tracks. The Republican assault on health care needs to end.”

BACKGROUND:

Due to Judge O’Connor’s ruling on December 14th, Republicans are one step closer to repealing the Affordable Care Act and eliminating key protections, unleashing — as the Trump Administration itself admitted in his court — “chaos” in our entire health care system. If this ruling is allowed to stand:

  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for 10 million people: GONE.
  • Medicaid expansion currently covering 15 million people: GONE.
  • Protections for more than 130 million people with pre-existing conditions when they buy coverage on their own: GONE.
  • Allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26: GONE.
  • Free annual wellness exams: GONE.
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits: GONE.
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women: GONE.
  • Contraception with no out-of-pocket costs: GONE.
  • Limit on out-of-pocket costs: GONE.
  • Requirement that insurance companies cover essential benefits like prescription drugs, maternity care, and hospitalization: GONE.
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs: GONE.
  • Closed Medicare prescription drug donut hole: GONE.
  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable: GONE.
  • Small business tax credits: GONE.

Protect Our Care Praises the MORE Health Education Act

Washington, DC— Today, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the MORE Health Education Act, which would counter the Trump administration’s sabotage efforts that have diverted funds and slashed health care enrollment advertising and marketing for the Health Insurance Marketplace by 90 percent since the president took office. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued a statement in support:

“The Trump administration has slashed the outreach and advertising budget for open enrollment in a deliberate act of sabotage – showing they will stop at nothing to undermine the health care law and deny Americans coverage. In November, voters said ‘enough’ with the GOP’s repeal and sabotage agenda and thanks to the leadership of Senator Shaheen and her Democratic colleagues, legislation is being introduced in the House and Senate to put a stop to President Trump’s ongoing efforts to undermine the law – an effort we wholeheartedly support.”  

BACKGROUND

The Trump Administration has repeatedly sabotaged the open enrollment process by cutting outreach resources and shortening the enrollment time period.

  • Protect Our Care’s Statement On The Trump Administration’s Sabotage Efforts Harm Open Enrollment

On Eve of Hearing, Protect Our Care Throws Its Support Behind Energy & Commerce Bills To Stop Trump Administration Sabotage of American Health Care

Washington DC — Protect Our Care, the advocacy group which led the fight to defeat President Trump and the GOP’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to make health care the defining issue of the 2018 elections, has thrown its support behind legislation to roll back Trump Administration sabotage of the law and to protect people with pre-existing conditions which is the subject of a congressional hearing tomorrow.  

Building on the mandate of voters to make this a “Health Care Congress,” the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing tomorrow on bills to strengthen our health care system, reverse sabotage and ensure pre-existing conditions protections. During the hearing, the committee will review bills, in advance of future committee and floor votes, which would halt the administration’s harmful waivers, roll back junk plans that undermine people with pre-existing conditions and provide insufficient coverage, and restore funding for open enrollment that has been slashed by President Trump in an act of deliberate sabotage. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement in support:

“In November, voters threw scores of Republicans out of office and sent an unmistakable rebuke to President Trump for their efforts to repeal and sabotage the health care of millions of Americans. Instead, voters put Democrats in charge of the House of Representatives to put an end to the Republican war on health care by lowering costs, expanding coverage and preserving and enhancing patient protections like those for people with pre-existing conditions.  

“While Republicans are ignoring the message voters sent by continuing to pursue an agenda to rip health care away from millions, Democrats are responding by taking direct aim at the deliberate sabotage of the Trump administration by rolling back junk plans, restoring open enrollment and ending harmful waivers intended to undermine the law – an effort we wholeheartedly endorse.”  

Background:

The bills respond to the will of voters in November who made health care the number one issue in the election and is a direct repudiation of President Trump and Republicans who have led a relentless war on American health care.

  • H.R. 986, the “Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019”, introduced by Rep. Ann M. Kuster (D-NH), would require the Trump Administration to rescind the Section 1332 guidance of the ACA promulgated in October of 2018.
  • H.R. 987, the “Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower Health Education Act of 2019” or the “MORE Health Education Act”, introduced by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), will restore outreach and enrollment funding to assist consumers in signing up for health care, which has been slashed by the Trump Administration.
  • H.R. 1010, To provide that the rule entitled “Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance” shall have no force or effect, introduced by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), will reverse the Trump Administration’s expansion of junk insurance plans, also known as short-term, limited-duration insurance plans.
  • H.R.  1143, the “Educating Consumers on the Risks of Short-Term Plans Act of 2019,” introduced by Chairwoman Eshoo (D-CA), and would require short-term, limited duration insurance (STLDI) to disclose the risks of STLDI to prospective consumers, including disclosure that STLDI may not cover preexisting conditions, may not cover the costs of medical services, and that coverage may be rescinded if the individual seeks treatment for a preexisting condition.

The Trump Administration has repeatedly sabotaged the open enrollment process by cutting outreach resources and shortening the enrollment time period.

  • Protect Our Care’s Statement On The Trump Administration’s Sabotage Efforts Harm Open Enrollment

Junk coverage provided by short-term plans leaves those who get sick with thousands of dollars in unpaid bills.

  • Factsheet On Short-term Junk Plans’ Inadequate Medical Coverage

New federal policies for 1332 waivers reduce protections that ensure benefits and cost-sharing protections found in the Affordable Care Act.

  • Trump Administration’s Attempt To Water Down The Guardrails For Health Insurance Plans With 1332 Waivers.

BREAKING: Republicans Defy Voters To Roll Back Medicaid Expansion In Utah

Washington DC — Yesterday, Utah Republicans and the governor signed into law legislation limiting the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, overturning a ballot measure voters approved in November to expand Medicaid. Under this new law, the state will ask the Trump administration to accept severe restrictions on Medicaid while insuring roughly 60,000 fewer Utahns. Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in response:

“Utah Republicans are defying the will of the same voters who put them in office by overturning the Medicaid ballot measure. And the Trump administration is egging them on. Unfortunately, that’s no surprise — it’s just the latest part of the repeal-and-sabotage agenda led by President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress. It’s time for Republicans to stop undermining Medicaid, pushing junk insurance plans and suing in federal court to “terminate” the entire law, and start lowering costs and protecting the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.”

BACKGROUND:

Associated Press: Republican-controlled Utah Defies Voters, Rolls Back Medicaid Expansion. “Utah passed sweeping changes to a voter-approved Medicaid expansion Monday, cutting the number of people covered nearly in half and adding work requirements that the Trump administration is expected to approve…It’s drawn vocal protest from advocates who say the changes go further than any of the four other conservative-leaning states where voters expanded Medicaid after state lawmakers refused. ‘This is a dark day for democracy in Utah,’ said Andrew Roberts, a spokesman for the group Utah Decides. ‘State legislators turned their backs on voters and on families in need.’ Lawmakers’ plan would extend Medicaid coverage to an additional 80,000 people, just over half of those that would have been covered under the ballot measure that voters passed in November, Republican Sen. Dan Hemmert said.” [Associated Press, 2/11/19]

Politico: Utah Plan Means Insuring “About 60,000 Fewer People Than The Obamacare Expansion Would Have And Initially Costing The State Tens Of Millions Of Dollars More. “Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Monday signed legislation adopting a limited expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, defying voters who in November approved the full Obamacare program through the ballot. Under the new GOP-written plan, Utah will ask the Trump administration for permission to implement unprecedented restrictions on the health coverage program for the poor, while insuring about 60,000 fewer people than the Obamacare expansion would have and initially costing the state tens of millions of dollars more.” [Politico, 2/11/19]

Cost Of Care: Trump Administration Rigs System To Make Drug Companies Even Richer While Americans Pay More

Today, the “Health Care Congress” continues to respond to the will of the voters with a House Ways & Means hearing on the Cost of Rising Prescription Drug Prices. While President Trump repeatedly promises to lower the cost of prescription drugs, Republicans are protecting the rigged system for the drug companies, allowing insurance companies to deny drug coverage to people, and rewarding the drug companies, instead.

Republicans and the Trump administration did do one thing on this issue: America’s largest pharmaceutical companies got a huge huge tax break from the Trump Tax bill and are lining the pockets of shareholders and CEOs while continuing to raise prices for everyday Americans.

The Trump Administration’s Talk is Cheap, But Drug Prices Aren’t…

Health care is prohibitively expensive for many Americans, causing many who have insurance to skip or delay care and prohibiting many who lack insurance from signing up for care.

  • A Protect Our Care poll found that 84 percent of Americans support requiring drug companies to notify the government in advance when they plan to significantly raise drug prices and create a mechanism to identify and stop unjustified increases; 82 percent support allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies to get lower prices on prescription drugs.
  • 15.5 percent of those who have insurance either skipped or delayed care because of cost or trouble paying bills in 2017.
  • Roughly one in four, or 26.2 percent of non-elderly people struggle with insurance affordability problems.
  • Cost is of particular concern to those in fair or poor health — 46.5 percent of those in fair or poor health are uninsured or have problems affording care despite having coverage. This includes 13.5 percent who are uninsured and 32.9 percent who have insurance but had a problem affording care in the last year.
  • Cost is the most cited reason for being uninsured — 45 percent of uninsured nonelderly adults in 2017 said they were uninsured because the cost is too high.

Americans pay more for drugs than do people in any other country. At $1,208 per capita, people in the U.S. spend more on pharmaceuticals per capita than do people in any other country in the world. British researchers found that U.S. prices were consistently higher than in other European markets, six times higher than in Brazil, and 16 times higher than in the lowest-price country, which was usually India.

Drug Prices Continue to Soar Under Trump. A report by Senate Democrats finds that the prices of the 20 most-prescribed drugs under Medicare Part D have increased substantially over the past five years, rising 10 times faster than inflation. Another report from the Pharmacy Benefits Consultants finds that over the past 14 months, 20 prescription drugs saw list-price increases of more than 200 percent.

Drug companies are engaging in the dangerous practice of price-gouging — pursuing massive profits to the detriment of people who need their medication to survive. In September 2018, Nostrum chief executive Nirmal Mulye defended his choice to raise the price of an antibiotic from $474.75 to $2,392 a bottle, saying he had “moral requirement…to sell the product for the highest price.” In 2017, Mylan, the company that made the EpiPen, came under fire for charging $609 for a box of two devices even though each only contained about $1 worth of the drug epinephrine. Between 2012 and 2016, the price of insulin, which 7.5 million Americans depend on, nearly doubled from $344 to $666.

…Pharmaceutical Companies Are Raking It In…

Pharmaceutical Companies Have Reaped Huge Benefits From The Trump Tax Bill. The Trump tax scam means billions of dollars in tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies. An Axios study found that 21 health care companies collectively expect to gain $10 billion in tax savings during 2018 alone. Most of the tax break windfall for health care companies is going toward share buybacks, dividends, acquisitions and paying down debt. According to Axios, nine pharmaceutical companies are are spending a combined $50 billion on new share buyback programs. All of the buybacks were announced during or after passage of the tax bill. Some drug companies are also increasing dividends for shareholders, with AbbVie increasing its cash dividend by 35 percent while also announcing a new $10 billion share repurchase program.

Massive Profits And Price Increases. Pharmaceutical companies raked in more than $30 billion in profits in the third quarter of 2018, with Pfizer alone bringing in $4.1 billion — the highest of any publicly traded health care company. Of the 19 companies that tallied at least $1 billion of third-quarter profit, 14 were drug companies.  Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies continue to increase prices. In January 2019 alone, Pfizer and Novartis announced price increases on dozens of drugs, including increasing the cost of a breast cancer medication to $12,000 for 21 pills.  All in all, nearly 30 drugmakers are expected to raise prices in 2019.  

Soaring CEO Pay. According to an Axios study, the CEOs of 70 of the largest U.S. health care companies cumulatively have earned $9.8 billion since 2010. CEOs took home nearly 11 percent more money on average every year since 2010 — far more than the wage growth of nearly all other workers. In 2017 alone, 30 health care executives made a combined $976 million.

…And Republicans Are Making it Worse

Republicans refuse to let Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices. Though 92 percent of Americans support allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, Republicans refuse to let Medicare negotiate drug prices. A 2018 Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Democratic Committee report found that Medicare Part D could save $2.8 billion in a single year if it were allowed to negotiate drug prices.

Trump Installed Big Pharma Executives In Key Administration Posts. President Trump installed a former Eli Lily executive, Alex Azar, as his secretary of Health and Human Services and his appointment of Scott Gottlieb at FDA was described as “music to pharma’s ears.” Other pharma lobbyists writing Trump’s health policy include senior adviser at FDA, Keagan Lenihan, who joined the administration after lobbying for the drug distribution giant McKesson, former Gilead lobbyist, Joe Grogan, who reviews health care regulations at the Office of Management and Budget, and Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Lance Leggitt, who has lobbied for a variety of drug-industry clients.

Trump’s Proposals Always Fall Far Short Of His Promises. President Trump promised that he would allow Medicare to use its buying power to negotiate drug prices directly with suppliers, but after meeting with pharmaceutical executives early in 2017, Trump abandoned that pledge, calling it “price fixing” that would hurt “smaller, younger companies.” The planned announcement to move some drugs from Medicare Part B, in which pharmaceuticals are purchased and administered by medical providers, to Part D, will do little to restrain the cost of prescription drugs for America’s seniors and falls far short of Trump’s promises.

Because Washington Republicans Repealed The Requirement That Most People Have Insurance And Encouraged People To Sign Up For Junk Plans, 2019 Premiums Are Higher Than They Should Be. Charles Gaba, health care analyst, calculates that individual marketplace premiums are increasing by an average of 2.8 percent nationally. However, Gaba estimates that if not for Republican sabotage, premiums would decrease by an average of 5.4 percent.

The Administration Has Consistently Advocated For The Repeal Of The Affordable Care Act, Including Eliminating The Requirement That Insurance Companies Cover Prescription Drugs. After the Trump administration tried and failed to repeal the ACA legislatively, it took to the courts in hopes of eliminating the health law. In 2018, the Justice Department decided not to defend the Affordable Care Act in court against a lawsuit seeking to overturn it. Since, a federal judge has ruled to overturn the law, including its requirement that insurance companies cover patients’ prescription drugs.

ICYMI: Trump Administration Fights House Bid to Defend American Health Care in Court

Trump along with Republican attorneys general and governors have already sued to try to overturn our health care laws in the Texas, et. al. vs. United States, et. al. case — including protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Now, he’s in court arguing that the House of Representatives shouldn’t be allowed to intervene to stop him.

WASHINGTON TIMES: “DOJ opposes House’s attempt to intervene in Obamacare suit”

REUTERS: “Trump administration fights House bid to defend Obamacare in court”

BACKGROUND:

Due to Judge O’Connor’s ruling on December 14th, Republicans are one step closer to repealing the Affordable Care Act and eliminating key protections, unleashing — as the Trump Administration itself admitted in his court — “chaos” in our entire health care system. If this ruling is allowed to stand:

  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for 10 million people: GONE.
  • Medicaid expansion currently covering 15 million people: GONE.
  • Protections for more than 130 million people with pre-existing conditions when they buy coverage on their own: GONE.
  • Allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26: GONE.
  • Free annual wellness exams: GONE.
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits: GONE.
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women: GONE.
  • Contraception with no out-of-pocket costs: GONE.
  • Limit on out-of-pocket costs: GONE.
  • Requirement that insurance companies cover essential benefits like prescription drugs, maternity care, and hospitalization: GONE.
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs: GONE.
  • Closed Medicare prescription drug donut hole: GONE.
  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable: GONE.
  • Small business tax credits: GONE.

BREAKING: Trump Administration Goes To Court To Silence The American People, Continue Effort to “Terminate” American Health Care

Washington DC — Less than one week after President Trump claimed a top priority of his is to protect people with pre-existing conditions, his administration is back in court arguing against those very protections. According to recent reporting, the Trump administration has filed in opposition to the House of Representatives intervening in the Texas, et. al. vs. United States, et. al. case which would overturn the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care issued the following statement in response:

“After Trump launched a lawsuit to overturn our health care law, now he’s gone to court to silence the majority of Americans who disagree with him. In November, voters rejected the Trump administration’s repeal and sabotage agenda, and under Speaker Pelosi’s leadership, the House responded to voters’ concerns by passing a resolution intervening in the Texas lawsuit. If the Trump administration’s latest attack is successful, our health care system is one step closer to the days where insurance companies had the power to deny, drop, or charge more for coverage. Make no mistake, today’s action once again shows the president is lying about his position on protecting people with pre-existing conditions.  His actions will hurt millions of Americans.”

BACKGROUND:

Due to Judge O’Connor’s ruling on December 14th, Republicans are one step closer to repealing the Affordable Care Act and eliminating key protections, unleashing — as the Trump Administration itself admitted in his court — “chaos” in our entire health care system. If this ruling is allowed to stand:

  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for 10 million people: GONE.
  • Medicaid expansion currently covering 15 million people: GONE.
  • Protections for more than 130 million people with pre-existing conditions when they buy coverage on their own: GONE.
  • Allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26: GONE.
  • Free annual wellness exams: GONE.
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits: GONE.
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women: GONE.
  • Contraception with no out-of-pocket costs: GONE.
  • Limit on out-of-pocket costs: GONE.
  • Requirement that insurance companies cover essential benefits like prescription drugs, maternity care, and hospitalization: GONE.
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs: GONE.
  • Closed Medicare prescription drug donut hole: GONE.
  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable: GONE.
  • Small business tax credits: GONE.

Protect Our Care Statement On The Passing Of Congressman John Dingell, Jr.

Washington, DC– Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, issued a statement on the passing of former Michigan Congressman and Dean of the House John Dingell, Jr. yesterday evening:

“We express our deepest condolences to the Dingell family during this painful time. John Dingell was a health care champion. In 1955, he introduced a bill for universal health coverage. In 1965 he presided over the House as Medicare became law. In 2009 he was the primary House sponsor of the Affordable Care Act. Every day of his 59 years in the House, he fought for better health care for America. We all owe him our gratitude. His six decades of leadership and his unique sense of humor will be greatly missed.”

Trump Regime Launches Cover Up Of Its Health Care Sabotage


Washington DC — As reported by the Associated Press, the Trump White House is claiming it has done nothing to “sabotage” the Affordable Care Act. In a report expected to be released today, the Council of Economic Advisers is trying to claim that the administration’s relentless war on Americans’ health care does not constitute “sabotage.” This is blatantly false. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“We’re just over a month into 2019 but this whopper is already in the running for the lie of the year. The Trump administration’s relentless sabotage of our health care system is well-documented. In November, voters took to the polls and rejected the Republican war on health care, and the fact that this administration is launching a massive cover-up of their sabotage means that they’re already bracing themselves against the wrath of voters in 2020.”

Don’t believe us? Take a look at our sabotage tracker:

February 2019

  • Trump predicts the Affordable Care Act will be “terminated” through the Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the law.
  • In an effort to restrict access to information about women’s reproductive health, the Trump administration removes web pages associated with the ACA and its contraceptive coverage from HHS’s Office of Population Affairs website.

January 2019

  • Thanks to GOP sabotage, the uninsured rate surges to the its highest level since 2014. Roughly seven million fewer people are estimated to have health care now than did two years ago.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposes changes to the ACA’s benefit and payment parameters, reducing subsidies available to those who purchase health care through the exchange, increasing premiums, and raising the out-of-pocket maximum for people with employer-sponsored health care.
  • In a win for big Pharma, the Trump administration proposes changes to the rebate system that would raise premiums, benefit pharmaceutical companies, and contain no mandate to lower list prices of drugs.

December 2018

  • Hand-picked Federal Judge Reed O’Connor rules in favor of twenty conservative states to overturn the Affordable Care Act, jeopardizing coverage for 17 million people and ripping away the ACA’s vital consumer protections such as protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Under the Trump administration’s relentless sabotage, the uninsured rate increases for the first time since 2010. As the Kaiser Family Foundation finds, “In 2017, the uninsured rate reversed course and, for the first time since the passage of the ACA, rose significantly to 10.2% [from 10%].”

November 2018

  • Trump administration issues new guidance urging states to “tear down basic pillars of the Affordable Care Act, demolishing a basic rule” that federal subsidies can only be used to purchase ACA-compliant plans. Experts warn against this move, saying it will push affordable, comprehensive care further out of reach for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
  • Under the Trump administration, the number of uninsured children grows for the first time in nearly a decade. After a decade of steady decreases in the number of uninsured children, in 2017 the number of uninsured children increased from 3.6 million to 3.9 million.

October 2018

  • Republicans appoint Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is known to be hostile to the Affordable Care Act.
  • 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.

September 2018

  • The Trump administration’s Department of Justice joins twenty conservative states in court in opening arguments to argue that the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be overturned.
  • Nearly 4,600 Arkansans are unable to meet Arkansas’ reporting requirements for the state’s Medicaid work requirements and lose Medicaid coverage.

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

  • CMS halts risk adjustment payments, that enable insurance companies to cover everyone, regardless of whether they are healthy or sick.
  • 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.
  • President Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has previously forced a young woman to continue a pregnancy against her will and has criticized Justice Roberts for upholding the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality.

June 2018

  • Department of Justice takes to the courts to argue that insurance companies should be able to discriminate against as many as 130 million Americans with a pre-existing condition.
  • Republican coalition, the Health Policy Consensus Group, released their latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, let insurance companies charge older people an age tax, and deny key coverage for basic services like maternity care.
  • Trump Administration finalizes proposal to expand access to association health plans that skirt key consumer protections.

May 2018

  • President Trump boasts about health care sabotage: “We will have gotten rid of a majority of Obamacare.”
  • Trump Administration enlists help of former drug lobbyist in writing its drug plan.
  • Congressional Republicans try to use annual farm bill to authorize $65 million in taxpayer funding to set up association health plans, which can  exclude prescription drug coverage, mental health care, and maternity care.

April 2018

  • House Republicans vote on a balanced budget amendment that would cut Medicaid by $700 billion over ten years, $114 billion in a single year alone.
  • 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.

March 2018

  • Republicans sabotage efforts to pass a bipartisan bill that would have stabilized Affordable Care Act marketplaces by insisting the bill restrict access to abortion.

February 2018

  • The Trump Administration announces that it will expand access to short-term health plans that do not have to comply with key consumer protection provisions required by the Affordable Care Act.
  • Urban Institute calculates that repeal of the individual mandate and expansion of short term plans will increase individual market premiums by an average 18.2 percent in 2019.
  • Trump Administration releases budget that calls for the Affordable Care Act to be replaced by Graham-Cassidy, in a move that experts predict would reduce health coverage for 32 million Americans.

January 2018

  • The Trump Administration announces that it will support states that impose onerous work requirements on Americans covered by Medicaid, and approves Kentucky’s worst-in-the-nation waiver the next day.
  • The Trump Administration announces a move to allow providers to discriminate by allowing them to deny patient care for almost any reason.
  • The Trump Administration makes plans to announce even more exemptions from the requirement people have health coverage before this provision is repealed altogether.

December 2017

  • The Trump Administration proposes a rule to expand association health plans, which would gut consumer protections, raise costs for people with pre-existing conditions and further destabilize the insurance markets.
  • 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.

November 2017

  • Republicans refuse to move forward on the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill to address the CSR crisis even though it had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

October 2017

  • The Trump Administration takes direct aim at birth control by rolling back a rule that guaranteed women access to contraception. (A court has since questioned the legality of the action.)
  • President Trump signs an Executive Order to roll back key consumer protections that will result in garbage insurance, raise premiums, reduce coverage and again expose millions of Americans to discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
  • The Trump Administration dramatically cuts in-person assistance to help people sign up for 2018 health coverage.
  • After threatening for months to stop funding cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) that help lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, the Trump Administration stops the payments altogether. The CBO finds that failing to make these payments will increase premiums by 20% and add nearly $200 billion to the debt.

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.
  • President Trump, again, threatens to end cost-sharing reduction payments.

June 2017

  • Senate Republicans embark on a monthslong failed attempt to pass BCRA, Skinny Repeal and Graham-Cassidy, all repeal bills that would have caused millions of Americans to lose their health coverage and raised premiums by double digits for millions more. They would have ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of children, seniors and people with disabilities at risk.

May 2017

  • House Republicans vote for and pass a health care repeal bill that would cause 23 million people to lose coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It would have imposed an age tax and allowed insurers to charge people over 50 five times more for coverage and ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of seniors, children and people with disabilities in jeopardy.

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.
  • In an effort to convince Democrats to negotiate a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, President Trump threatens to cut off cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) that help low-income marketplace customers pay for out-of-pocket costs.

March 2017

  • The Trump Administration sends a letter to governors encouraging them to submit proposals which include provisions such as work requirements that make it harder for Medicaid beneficiaries to get affordable care and increase the number of people who are uninsured.

February 2017

  • The Trump Administration proposes a rule to weaken Marketplace coverage and raise premiums for millions of middle-class families.

January 2017

  • On his first day in office, President Trump signs an Executive Order directing the administration to identify every way it can unravel the Affordable Care Act.
  • 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.