Monthly Archives

February 2019

House Democrats Launch The Health Care Congress With A Series of Bills to End Attacks on Pre-Existing Conditions & Stop Republican Sabotage

Democrats, Responding to the Mandate from Voters in November, Introduce Bills to Roll Back Junk Plans, End Harmful Waivers and Stop the Deliberate Sabotage of Open Enrollment

Washington, DC — Today, following yesterday’s hearing on the Texas lawsuit and its impact on people with pre-existing conditions, the Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce announced a series of bills to protect people with pre-existing conditions and block Republican sabotage of American health care. Subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo explained in her opening remarks in yesterday’s hearing that the “reforms of the ACA protect every American.” The bills put a halt to the administration’s harmful waivers, roll back junk plans that undermine people with pre-existing conditions, and restore outreach funding for open enrollment that has been slashed by President Trump in an act of deliberate sabotage.  

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.

“Voters sent a clear message in the 2018 midterms and rejected the Republican war on health care. The Democratic Congress is now delivering what the voters demanded and the ‘Health Care Congress’ is off to a strong start,” said Leslie Dach, Chair of Protect Our Care. “House committees held 5 hearings in the span of a week, and today’s bills are a clear rebuke to the Republican agenda of eliminating protections for people with pre-existing conditions and sabotaging Americans health care. The legislation introduced today would put a halt to the administration’s deliberately harmful waivers, roll back junk plans that are undermining protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and stop the sabotage of open enrollment by authorizing funding for navigators and marketing and requiring the administration to do its job and run future open enrollments as intended.”

“Taken together, these bills represent a repudiation of Trump-led Republican sabotage that has undermined American health care, driven up costs and increased the number of uninsured,” said Brad Woodhouse, Executive Director of Protect Our Care. “Make no mistake – President Trump and Republicans have made it their mission to repeal and sabotage American health care. The American people rejected that approach and scores of Republicans were shown the door in November as a result. Democrats are turning the page by confronting President Trump’s sabotage and doing what the American people want – making health care more affordable and accessible to all.”

To learn more about 1332 waivers, junk plans, and outreach funding see below:

Anti-Health Care Nominee Chad Readler Is Voted Out Of Committee By Senate Republicans 


Senate Republicans Once Again Turn Their Backs On People With Pre-existing Conditions With Anti-Health Care Vote

Washington DC — Today, on a party-line vote, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to allow Chad Readler’s nomination to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to proceed to the full Senate for debate and a vote. Readler led the effort in the Trump Justice Department to eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions by filing a brief on behalf of the Trump administration in Texas v. United States arguing in favor of striking down the Affordable Care Act’s provisions to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage, or charging more because of a pre-existing condition. In December 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor ruled in favor of the Republican plaintiffs and said the entire ACA should be struck down. Now, Mitch McConnell is breaking with longstanding Senate norms to jam through this nomination by ignoring the objections of Readler’s home state senator, Sherrod Brown. Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“A vote for Chad Readler is a vote for full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. His confirmation vote is a litmus test for Republican’s claims to protect people pre-existing conditions and today they failed that test. Readler wants to go back to the days where insurance companies could deny, drop or charge more for coverage and end protections for millions of people with pre-existing conditions. The stakes couldn’t be clearer, the full Senate must stand up for people with pre-existing conditions and block Chad Readler from a lifetime appointment to the court.”

Background:

As Acting Assistant Attorney General, Chad Readler filed a brief on behalf of the Trump administration in Texas v. United States arguing that protections for people with pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act should be struck down. This put the full weight of the Department of Justice behind the Republican war on health care to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA).  In December, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Republican plaintiffs, striking down the entire ACA. 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.

Back At It Again: Trump Administration Hostile to Medicaid Ignored Rules That Protect Patients


Washington DC — Today, the Los Angeles Times reports that the Trump administration is scrambling to overhaul Medicaid by requiring burdensome work requirements, but are failing to enforce federal rules directing states to analyze the devastating impact such requirements will have on millions of Americans who rely on this life-saving program. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in response:   

“The actions by this administration are egregious, but unfortunately par for the course considering President Trump has put people in charge of Medicaid who are simply out to destroy it. Failing to enforce rules requiring states to access the impact of Medicaid work requirements shows that the Trump administration doesn’t care who their policies hurt. This is part and parcel to Trump-led Republican sabotage agenda: they oppose Medicaid expansion — which would provide health care coverage to millions more Americans, support so-call ‘block grants” — a euphemism for slashing coverage, and are pushing ‘work requirements’ – which are little more than gotcha paperwork meant to kick eligible people off the rolls. Medicaid is the nation’s largest health insurance program and is more popular today than ever before. These senseless work requirements are already jeopardizing health care for thousands of low-income families — nearly all of whom are already working — and the Trump administration is breaking every rule in the book in their rush to implement it as just another deliberate attack on American health care.”

Background:

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

  • Results from Arkansas confirm that Medicaid work requirements are fundamentally bureaucratic hurdles, threatening access to health coverage for thousands across the state. “A review of monthly data related to the new requirements released by the Arkansas Department of Human Services shows that from September through December 2018, over 18,000 people were disenrolled for failure to comply with the new requirements for three months.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 1/17/19]
  • This summer, a federal district court blocked Kentucky from imposing similar rules for the negative effects it would have on Kentuckians. Said the court in its ruling, “[Secretary Azar] never adequately considered whether Kentucky HEALTH would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid. This signal omission renders his determination arbitrary and capricious. The Court, consequently, will vacate the approval of Kentucky’s project and remand the matter to HHS for further review.”
  • In Indiana, 25,000 people with health insurance through Medicaid were dropped from coverage because they were unable to pay their premiums. The Washington Post reported, “About 25,000 adults were disenrolled from the program between its start in 2015 and October 2017 for failure to pay their premiums, according to state reports. Yet, state officials estimate that based on surveys of recipients, about half of those who were disenrolled found another source of coverage, most often through a job…In addition to those who were disenrolled, another 46,000 adults who signed up for Medicaid during 2016 and 2017 were not accepted because they did not pay their initial premium, the state reported.”

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

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

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

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

Fact Check: Donald Trump Can’t Stop Lying About Pre-existing Conditions  

At last night’s State of the Union, President Trump claimed his next major priority would be “to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.” If these claims sound familiar, it’s because they are. Donald Trump has been repeating this lie throughout his presidency, even as he has been working to take away people’s pre-existing condition protections since day one of his administration. He supported multiple House and Senate repeal bills that would have ended such protections, is pushing junk plans that allow for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, and is arguing in court that pre-existing condition protections should be eliminated in a lawsuit Trump himself predicts would terminatethe Affordable Care Act and its consumer protections.


The media has already called Trump out for his lies on this topic:

Vox: Don’t Believe Trump When He Says It’s A “Priority” To Protect Americans with Preexisting Conditions. “President Trump used his State of the Union address to lay out a seemingly straightforward health care agenda. He described two major priorities: to lower drug prices and ‘to protect patients with preexisting conditions.’ What Trump didn’t say: His administration thinks the Affordable Care Act’s protections for preexisting conditions are illegal and ought to be ruled unconstitutional.” [Vox, 2/5/19]

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

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

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

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

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

SOTU Excerpts On Drug Prices: Same Exact Promise As Last Year, Expect the Same Inaction

Trump’s pledge on lowering prescription drug prices looks familiar…

“It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place. This is wrong, unfair, and together we can stop it.”

…where have we heard this before? Ah yes, last year’s State of the Union.

“One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. That is why I have directed my Administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down.”

Donald Trump: Cheap Talk. Sky High Drug Prices.

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS ALL TALK ON DRUG PRICES, BUT NO ACTION:

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 drug prices soared over the first 14 months of Trump’s presidency, during which 20 prescription drugs saw list-price increases of more than 200 percent. In 2018, there were about 1,800 prescription drug price increases according to data compiled by 46brooklyn Research. This year already, Pharma giants Pfizer and Novartis have raised prices on dozens of drug.

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.

Republican Health Care Sabotage Makes Prescription Drugs More Expensive For Millions. The Trump Administration wants to let states sell junky short-term health plans that skirt Affordable Care Act requirements. Typical short-term policies do not cover prescription drugs or maternity care, mental health care, preventive care, and other essential benefits. Not only that, but short term plans result in higher costs for people enrolled in full coverage plans as well as soaring premiums.

… WHILE 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 healthcare 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.

SOTU PREVIEW: Five Ways The Trump Administration Has Continued To Sabotage Americans’ Health Care Since The Midterms

In November, voters took to the polls and sent a clear message to GOP leaders: end the Republican war on health care. National exit polls showed health care was the top issue to voters, and exit polls of competitive districts found Democrats had an eight point advantage on health care, 52 to 44 percent. Thirty-three members of Congress who voted to repeal the ACA lost their seats.

Despite voters’ clear rejection of the GOP sabotage agenda, President Trump has continued to ruthlessly target Americans’ health care. Here’s a look at five ways he has ignored the will of the American people and taken aim at health care since this fall’s midterm elections:

  1. Just Last Week, President Trump Admitted That He Supports The Goal Of The Lawsuit Led By Republican Attorneys General And Governors To Completely “Terminate” The Affordable Care Act. Trump predicted the Affordable Care Act would be “terminated” through the Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the law. In December, cherry-picked Federal Judge Reed O’Connor ruled 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.
  2. In January, Experts Blamed Trump Administration Sabotage for Driving The Uninsured Rate To Its Highest Level Since The Implementation Of The Affordable Care Act In 2014. Thanks to GOP sabotage, the uninsured rate surged to its highest level since 2014. Roughly seven million fewer people are estimated to have health care now than did two years ago.
  3. In Its Notice Of Benefit And Payment Parameters, The Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services Actually Proposed Changes That Would Make Consumers Pay More. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed changes to the ACA’s benefit and payment parameters would reduce premium tax credits by $1 billion per year, cause 100,000 people to lose marketplace coverage starting in 2020, increase annual premiums, and increase the out-of-pocket maximum for people with employer-sponsored health care.
  4. The Trump Administration Just Gave PhRMA a Big Win After The Pharmaceutical Industry Spent $280 Million On Lobbying In 2018. In a win for big Pharma, the Trump administration proposed changes to the rebate system that would raise premiums, benefit pharmaceutical companies, and contain no mandate to lower list prices of prescription drugs.
  5. After The Midterm Elections, The Trump Administration Urged States To Allow Federal Subsidies To Be Used To Purchase Junk Plans That Discriminate Against People With Pre-existing Conditions. The Trump administration issued 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.

State of Broken Promises: Trump’s Talk is Cheap, but Prescription Drug Prices Aren’t

Washington DC — If past is prologue, tonight President Trump will once again pay lip service to rein in the high cost of prescription drugs, just as he did in last year’s State of the Union address. If the past year proves anything, it’s that President Trump’s talk is cheap but prescription drug prices remain sky high. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in anticipation of more broken promises from Trump tonight on prescription drugs:

“One year ago, Donald Trump promised the American people he would ‘substantially’ lower prescription drugs prices and threw the gauntlet down by adding emphatically ‘watch.’ We did watch, Mr. President, and a year later prescription drug prices are still sky high. The president continues to renege on his campaign promise to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, and his administration has put forward a plan on rebates that has been called a gift to Big Pharma. The only ‘substantial’ thing this President has done on health care in the last year is to engage in a relentless war on American health care administratively, in Congress, and in the courts. And if anyone believes some teleprompter-delivered promise from President Trump tonight on reducing the cost of prescription drugs, send them my way: I have some beachfront property in Arizona for sale.”

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS ALL TALK ON DRUG PRICES, BUT NO ACTION:

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 drug prices soared over the first 14 months of Trump’s presidency, during which 20 prescription drugs saw list-price increases of more than 200 percent. In 2018, there were about 1,800 prescription drug price increases according to data compiled by 46brooklyn Research. This year already, Pharma giants Pfizer and Novartis have raised prices on dozens of drug.

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.

Republican Health Care Sabotage Makes Prescription Drugs More Expensive For Millions. The Trump Administration wants to let states sell junky short-term health plans that skirt Affordable Care Act requirements. Typical short-term policies do not cover prescription drugs or maternity care, mental health care, preventive care, and other essential benefits. Not only that, but short term plans result in higher costs for people enrolled in full coverage plans as well as soaring premiums.

… WHILE 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 healthcare 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.

Ahead of Trump’s State Of The Union Address, Protect Our Care Releases Ad Outlining Health Care Agenda For Congress

View The Ad: An Agenda for American Health Care

Washington, D.C. — Ahead of President Trump’s State Of The Union address tonight, Protect Our Care released a new digital ad outlining a health care agenda that responds to Americans’ call for lower prescription drug costs, more affordable health care, and enhanced protections for patients like those with pre-existing conditions. During the 2018 midterm elections, Americans went to the polls to voice their outrage over Republican attacks on health care and the result was clear: voters elected a “Health Care Congress” to lower costs, improve care and expand coverage. The ad will run heavily on social media today and during the State of the Union address tonight targeting voters, members of congress and their staff, and reporters covering the address.

“No matter what the president says tonight, his record is clear. This administration had two years to find ways to lower costs and improve health care coverage for Americans but instead worked overtime to repeal and sabotage American health care,” said Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care. “This ad lays out the agenda for health care the American people voted for in November and serves as a blueprint for action in 2019. The time has come for Congress to lower costs, safeguard protections, and rein in the greed and abuses of insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry. The American people rejected the anti-health care agenda that has defined the Republican Party for almost a decade now. If Donald Trump and his Republican allies truly care about the state of our union, they would heed the message voters sent in November and end their war on health care.”  

Watch Protect Our Care’s new ad here:

Background:

Read Protect Our Care’s full 2019 Agenda here. A summary of the agenda from the report can be found below.

Do Everything Possible to Overturn the Federal Court Decision that Struck Down the Affordable Care Act

  • Oppose the Texas ruling by a conservative federal judge in the Northern District of Texas that overturned the entire Affordable Care Act by passing a Senate Resolution to similar to the House measure that authorizes the House legal counsel to intervene in the lawsuit and oppose the Republican attorneys general, governors, and Trump Administration who are continuing the war on health care through the courts.

End the War on People with Pre-Existing Conditions

  • Stop insurance companies from selling junk health insurance that allows them to deny quality, affordable coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.  These kinds of short term plans should be limited to three-months with no option for renewal.
  • Guarantee protections for pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits. Require all health plans to cover the “essential health benefits” included in the law, ensure guaranteed issue and community rating, and prohibit insurance companies from imposing lifetime and annual limits on the amount of care a patient can receive.

Lower Costs

  • Lower the costs of prescription drugs. Pass legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices for all beneficiaries; end price gouging by requiring drug manufacturers to give notice and justify significant price increases; and require transparency of rebate amounts.
  • End surprise medical bills. 57 percent of Americans have received a surprise bill. Too many  people go to a hospital or Emergency Room that is in their network, but get billed for services provided out-of-network, subjecting them to huge bills, as much as six figures. Congress should pass legislation to end surprise medical bills and limit the amount a provider can charge to a negotiated rate.  
  • Expand financial assistance by expanding the eligibility for premium tax credits above 400 percent of the federal poverty limit and increase the size of the tax credit for all income brackets.
  • Expand services before deductibles, examples would include three primary care visits and one specialist visit that are not subject to a plan’s deductible.

End Republican Sabotage

  • Fully support Open Enrollment by restoring funding to the pre-Trump levels and making all information about ways to sign up for coverage easily accessible for everyone.
  • Oppose waivers that undermine the ACA and allow states to skirt key provisions of the law.

Strengthen Medicaid and Medicare

  • Improve Medicare’s affordability by adding an out-of-pocket maximum after which beneficiaries would be protected from additional costs; including prescription drugs in the limit on out-of-pocket spending; adding coverage for vision, hearing, and dental; and making cost-sharing more affordable.
  • Extend and increase federal funding for Medicaid expansion.

Conduct Oversight on Trump Administration Actions that Undermine The Affordable Care Act

  • Topics to conduct oversight on include the Trump Justice Department’s decision not to defend all of the Affordable Care Act in federal court, cuts to outreach and navigator funding, rules opening the door to junk insurance, 1332 guidance that allows federal funds to be used to purchase skimpy health plans, relationships between Administration political appointees and regulated industries, the administration’s push to encourage states to impose work requirements on Medicaid coverage, drug prices and pharmaceutical profits.

Protect Our Care Statement On World Cancer Day

Washington DC — Today, the world comes together once again to recognize World Cancer Day. As we unite our voices to raise awareness, we also call on the Administration to end their attacks on pre-existing conditions and affordable comprehensive health care for cancer patients and survivors. Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“Sadly, cancer has devastated the lives of millions of Americans and has left many wondering how they’ll access and pay for their life-saving care. Over the past two years, President Trump has worked nonstop to sabotage protections for coverage for pre-existing conditions, making life even more difficult for cancer patients and survivors.  The GOP lawsuit to “terminate” the ACA is President Trump’s latest attempt to roll back the clock and strip Americans of their health care. If this misguided ruling isn’t overturned, Republicans will succeed in striking down the ACA and gutting key protections for millions of Americans. On this World Cancer Day, Trump and his Republican allies ought to end their war on pre-existing conditions and instead put their efforts into fighting the war on cancer.”

Background:

  • As Outlined In An Amicus Brief Written By The American Cancer Society, The Affordable Care Act Has Increased Cancer Patients’ Access To Potentially Life-Saving Health Care. However, the ACA greatly improved this situation.  After the ACA was enacted, the uninsured rate among nonelderly patients with newly diagnosed cancer declined substantially, especially among low-income people who resided in Medicaid expansion states—where it decreased 6 percent. This increase in coverage affects health outcomes—a small but statistically significant shift was found toward early-stage diagnosis for colorectal, lung, female breast, and pancreatic cancer and melanoma in patients in expansion states. Similarly, the ACA coverage expansion for dependent children up to age 26 has increased the insurance coverage rate among that population, had positive effect on initiation and completion of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, early diagnosis and receipt of fertility-sparing treatments for cervical cancer, and increased early-stage diagnosis for total cancer and osseous and chondromatous neoplasms among young adults 19 to 25 years old. The proportion of cancer survivors reporting delayed or forgone care and inability to afford health care services also significantly decreased during implementation of the ACA from 2010 to 2016. Overall, the uninsured rate for cancer survivors decreased from 12.4 percent (pre-full ACA implementation, 2012) to 7.7 percent (post-full ACA implementation, 2015).” [American Cancer Society, 6/14/18]
  • Similarly, The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Expansion Has Helped Cancer Patients See Increased Coverage For Care. “The number of uninsured cancer patients dropped in both expanded and non-expanded states from 2011 to 2014, but expansion states experienced a steeper decline. In expanded states, the uninsured rate declined a relative 52 percent, from 4.4 to 2.1 percent while Medicaid enrollment rose from 15.2 to 18.0 percent (p < 0.0001). In non-expansion states, the uninsured rate dropped a relative five percent (8.4 to 8.0 percent).”  [American Society For Radiation Oncology, 9/25/17]
  • In Kentucky, Medicaid Expansion Was Associated With Earlier Diagnosis And Somewhat Improved Breast Cancer Care. “The expansion of Kentucky Medicaid in 2014 has been associated with earlier diagnosis and somewhat improved quality of breast cancer care, despite a stable disease incidence. Additional improvements in treatment expediency will require improvements in patient outreach and healthcare infrastructure.” [Journal of the American College of Surgeons, April 2018]

Shot/Chaser: Big Pharma Spends More On Lobbying Than Any Other Industry, Gets Rewarded With “Win” In Drug Rebate Proposal

Shot/Chaser: Big Pharma Spends More On Lobbying Than Any Other Industry, Gets Rewarded With “Win” In Drug Rebate Proposal

Big Pharma’s big spending in the last year is paying off with a new Trump administration proposal:

SHOT: Pharmaceutical Industry Spent More On Lobbying In 2018 Than Any Other Industry. Open Secrets issued a report showing that the pharmaceutical industry spent almost $280 million on lobbying in 2018, “with no other industry coming close” in terms of spending.

CHASER: “One Thing That Is Pretty Certain: Pharma Wins.” The Trump administration rolled out a new drug rebate proposal last Thursday, with Axios’ analysis concluding that it would just be another win for Big Pharma, with “no mandate to lower” drug prices for Americans.