Monthly Archives

March 2019

Protect Our Care Responds to House Democrats’ Resolution Condemning Trump Legal Assault On Health Care

Washington, D.C. —  Today, House Democrats announced they will hold a vote in the next week on a resolution introduced by Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) condemning the Trump administration’s latest legal assault on health care. In response, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“Every Member of Congress who claims to care about health care or has promised their constituents to protect people with pre-existing conditions will be judged by how they vote on this resolution. You can stand for affordable quality health care or you can stand with Donald Trump — you can’t do both.”

Trump Administration Approves Dangerous Medicaid Work Requirements, Cap On Enrollment In Utah Just Days After Judge Strikes Down HHS Sabotage

Washington, DC — Following the Trump Administration’s decision today to approve a cap on Medicaid enrollment and impose dangerous Medicaid work requirements in Utah in as many days as similar requirements in Kentucky and Arkansas were struck down by a federal judge, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“Two days after a federal judge ruled the Trump Administration’s dangerous Medicaid work requirements illegal, Seema Verma is at it again, trying to impose the same work requirements in Utah. If Administrator Verma spent less time spending millions of dollars on her image consultants and more time understanding her duties as CMS administrator, she might realize these work requirements are not only illegal, but extremely harmful to Americans.”

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Editorial Boards Reject Trump’s “Senseless” War On Health Care, Laud Democrats For Smart Plan To Deliver Lower Costs & Better Care

This week, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats announced legislation that would deliver Americans lower costs and better care. President Trump announced his full support of a lawsuit that would strip health care and pre-existing condition protections from millions. Editorial boards across the country have taken note — the contrast could not be more clear. Take a look for yourself:

Bloomberg Editorial: House Democrats’ Smart Plan To Bolster Obamacare. “The ACA remains under fierce assault. And that is all the more reason to welcome a new effort by Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives to buttress the law.Assorted blows against Obamacare have caused premiums for individual health-care policies to be set about 16 percent higher than they otherwise would have been this year. Enrollment fell by 300,000 for 2019 — extending a disgraceful pause in what had been, after passage of the ACA, a steady expansion in American health-care security…With this measure, the Democratic leadership isn’t proposing a revolutionary single-payer plan, but more of the incremental progress toward health-care security that’s already been accomplished by the ACA — which, by the way, is now a broadly popular law. As the Trump administration pursues a radical legal attack on Obamacare’s achievements, the new bill shows that the Democrats can lead responsibly on this vital issue.” [Bloomberg, 3/27/19]

Washington Post Editorial: Trump’s New Attempt To Undo Obamacare Is Senseless. “Previously, the Trump administration argued that only some of the law would have to be quashed. Now, the Justice Department says the whole thing must disappear. This is bonkers. Obamacare is a sprawling law that includes big changes in Medicaid, Medicare, hospital regulation and public-health policy that have no relationship with the individual mandate. The loss of the mandate poses no threat to the viability of Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid program, on which 17 million Americans rely. It has no bearing on whether restaurants should have to post calorie counts on their menus or whether payments to Medicare providers should be cut. Mandate or no, these reforms could persist.” [Washington Post, 3/27/19]

Wall Street Journal Editorial: A Losing Health-Care Strategy. “An abiding mystery of the Trump Presidency is why it can’t stand prosperity. And right on time, after its victory on Russian collusion, the Administration decided this week to elevate a legal fight over health care that it is almost sure to lose…As for the politics, the White House calculation seems to be that a legal decision striking down the law would force Congress to act. President Trump said on Wednesday that ‘if the Supreme Court rules that ObamaCare is out, we will have a plan that is far better than ObamaCare.’ The GOP and Democrats can then offer Americans their competing health-care visions in 2020, and may the best plan win. But the White House had better hope it doesn’t have that debate after millions have lost their insurance in an election year due to a court case. The GOP couldn’t agree on a plan to replace ObamaCare when it ran all of Congress, and many of the GOP Members most knowledgeable about health care have retired. If there’s some new emerging GOP consensus, we haven’t heard about it.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/27/19]

USA Today Editorial: Trump Prattles On About Making GOP ‘The Party Of Health Care,’ But Republicans Have No Such Plan. “While President Donald Trump prattled Wednesday about some forthcoming, unspecified offering that would be ‘far better than Obamacare’ and make the GOP ‘the party of great health care,’ he has no such plan. Such a plan has never existed for one simple reason: The ACA largely is that plan. Its basic architecture was devised in the 1990s as a conservative alternative to the proposals of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Later, it would be put into practice by Republican Mitt Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, and appropriated by Democrat Barack Obama when he was a presidential candidate.  Ironically, and cynically, the biggest winner from the renewed effort to kill Obamacare is Democratic lawmakers. With Trump off the hook on Russian collusion, they could hardly restrain their glee this week as they attacked the president and unveiled plans to expand coverage.” [USA Today, 3/27/19]

Columbus Dispatch Editorial: Trump’s Delusion Won’t Make GOP Health Care Champions. ‘Let me tell you exactly what my message is: The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care,’ he told reporters on Tuesday.

We suggest he left a word off the end of that comment: devastation. That will be the result if Trump and his Justice Department are successful in pursuing total invalidation of the Affordable Care Act through a court challenge pending in a federal appeals court in New Orleans…Democrats are understandably gleeful at Trump’s folly in claiming Republicans can transform into health care champions. The fantasy in that view is why Democrats regained the House in the 2018 midterm elections.” [Columbus Dispatch, 3/29/19]

Charleston Gazette-Mail Editorial: Having Learned Nothing, Trump Goes After Obamacare Again. “President Donald Trump, feeling exuberant from an exoneration that was not at all an exoneration from the Mueller investigation, has again decided to set his sights on destroying the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Trump is once more proving he never learns from anything, and GOP incumbents are wondering what to do with this new landmine as the 2020 election approaches…If the ACA is repealed, Americans will suffer. They will be denied health insurance, and their out-of-pocket medical expenses will soar. In a state like West Virginia, it would likely mean more medical providers would shut down, making health care even more inaccessible for rural residents.” [Charleston Gazette-Mail, 3/29/19]

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial: Trump, Hawley Bid To Kill Obamacare Endangers America’s Health — And The GOP’s. “In its place, the White House offers mendacious rhetoric about bringing more and better coverage to the most vulnerable Americans, while working in plain view to do exactly the opposite: to return America to a place where having a pre-existing medical condition can mean personal bankruptcy or worse…And how would President Donald Trump address the gaping health care hole he proposes to open? He offered typically empty bluster: ‘The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care. You watch.’ America will. And if this suit succeeds, the walloping the GOP took in House races last year — largely because of Republican intransigence on health care — would look like a pin prick compared to the political health crisis the GOP could be facing.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 3/27/19]

Protect Our Care Responds to Exclusive Politico Reporting On Seema Verma’s Taxpayer-Funded Image Consultants

Washington, DC — In response to exclusive Politico reporting exposing how CMS uses taxpayer-funds to employ a team of GOP consultants who travel with Seema Verma around the country and polish her brand, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“It’s not working.”

 

Exclusive: Key Trump health official spends millions on GOP-connected consultants

Politico // Adam Cancryn & Dan Diamond // March 29, 2019

 

The Trump appointee who oversees Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare quietly directed millions of taxpayer dollars in contracts to Republican communications consultants during her tenure atop the agency — including hiring one well-connected GOP media adviser to bolster her public profile.

The communications subcontracts approved by CMS Administrator Seema Verma — routed through a larger federal contract and described to POLITICO by three individuals with firsthand knowledge of the agreements — represent a sharp break from precedent at the agency. Those deals, managed by Verma’s deputies, came in some cases over the objections of CMS staffers, who raised concerns about her push to use federal funds on GOP consultants and to amplify coverage of Verma’s own work. CMS has its own large communications shop, including about two dozen people who handle the press.

Verma, a close ally of Vice President Mike Pence, has become a lightning rod for pushing work requirements in Medicaid and spearheading the Trump administration’s efforts to unilaterally unwind pieces of Obamacare. She previously worked as a consultant to conservative states seeking to reshape health care programs for the poor.

Her agency’s use of outside contracts and subcontracts is legal, but experts and current officials say it is not transparent and raises ethical questions.

“Outsourcing communications work to private contractors puts the agency’s ability to protect ‘potentially market-moving’ information from premature disclosure at considerable risk,” said Andy Schneider, a Medicaid expert who worked at CMS during the Obama administration and is now a professor at Georgetown University.

And whether the issue was Medicare, Medicaid or Obamacare, prior heads of the agency were often quoted, profiled and in the news, so current officials said they’re puzzled why so much work is being outsourced.

“The head of Obamacare doesn’t need outside consultants to get reporters to talk to her,” said one CMS official, who asked for anonymity. “The job pitches itself.”

The subcontracts are part of a $2.25 million contract administered by Porter Novelli, an international public relations firm that performs a wide variety of government services. CMS’ new top communications official Tom Corry confirmed the arrangement. Two other individuals said CMS also spent at least $1 million on earlier contracts with GOP communications consultants.

One subcontract is with Pam Stevens, a longtime GOP media adviser who specializes in setting up profiles of Republican women. A second subcontract is with Marcus Barlow, whom Verma worked with in Indiana and considered hiring as a top communications official in 2017 before he was blocked by the White House.

As contractors, Stevens and Barlow are paid between $185 and $200 per hour, said two individuals with knowledge of their contracts — a far higher pay rate than the majority of high-level government officials.

A third contract is with Nahigian Strategies, a firm run by a high-profile pair of brothers. Keith Nahigian consulted with several GOP presidential campaigns; Ken Nahigian briefly led President Donald Trump’s presidential transition team in 2017. Nahigian Strategies staff have supported and advised Verma on messaging strategy for nearly two years, including accompanying Verma to Denver on Tuesday for meetings with digital health experts and CMS staff. One individual familiar with the relationship said Nahigian Strategies was paid at least $2 million for its work with CMS over the past two years.

Stevens, Nahigian Strategies and Porter Novelli referred questions to CMS. Barlow declined to comment for this article.

In an interview with POLITICO, Verma’s newly installed communications director Corry couldn’t specify how much CMS had spent on GOP communications consultants, but stressed that he planned to cut them back now that the agency had personnel in place — after a slow start early in the Trump administration.

“Now that we’re fully staffed up, contractor resources are going to be used less than they were,” said Corry, who ran a health care consulting firm before joining CMS on March 4 to head its 200-person communications office. Their work includes running consumer-facing websites.

“We use our resources judiciously,” Corry said. “We’re not wasting the taxpayer dollar.”

While Corry said he wasn’t sure about overall spending on communications consultants, “it’s a small number compared to all the contracts we have,” he said.

Federal agencies are not required to proactively disclose arrangements with subcontractors, or even that those subcontractors exist — a gray area that gives them broad leeway to bring on individuals and outside firms under the cover of vague public contracts. For instance, public spending records describe the Porter Novelli contract simply as “strategic communications.”

But some career CMS staff have voiced their concerns to political appointees within the agency about routing taxpayer dollars to GOP consultants and helping a federal official like Verma improve her personal brand, said two individuals aware of those conversations. Oversight groups also have raised concerns, saying the behavior, as described to them by POLITICO, would appear to cross ethical lines.

“There are a host of ethical and contractual problems with appointees steering contracts to political allies and subcontractors, and possibly a violation of the ban on personal services contracts if the work is being performed at the direction of the appointee,” Scott Amey, general counsel of the Project on Government Oversight, told POLITICO. “Contracts are supposed to be above reproach, with complete impartiality, and without preferential treatment, and the HHS Inspector General should review this [Porter Novelli] contract and the activities under it to ensure they are proper.”

In her two years leading CMS, Verma has drawn attention for regularly criticizing Obamacare — a law she administers — as well as trading Twitter barbs with Democratic lawmakers and mocking progressive ideas like “Medicare for All.” She also has battled with health experts, including the committee created to advise Congress on Medicaid, which broadly has warned the administration’s push to shrink government health programs will reverse coverage gains made under Obamacare.

Verma recently completed several interviews, arranged by Stevens, that focused on emphasizing her personal life and her role as a prominent Republican woman. The cover profile in this month’s AARP bulletin, which went to more than 24 million people, included a sidebar on Verma’s husband’s experience in the health system.

Consultants help shape CMS strategy

Before the Trump administration, communications consultants were used mostly for sweeping agency priorities, like raising awareness of Medicare open enrollment or encouraging sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act, five current and former officials said.

CMS’ current use of communications contractors has gone well beyond the norm, those five sources said, and comes at a time when Verma has made cuts elsewhere, such as reducing advertising for Obamacare enrollment by tens of millions of dollars. The outside consultants frequently handled Verma’s media calls, joined her on promotional trips and wrote her speeches.

Those functions historically were performed by career civil servants in the CMS Communications Office.

“We have no idea who some of these people are and why they’re in meetings with the administrator,” said one senior CMS official, who asked for anonymity. “They’re not introduced … It’s become a guessing game for us.”

The GOP consultants also brought a political edge to the agency’s communications.

In a February 2018 incident, contractor Brett O’Donnell barred a Modern Healthcare reporter from a media call for refusing to alter a story that had rankled Verma. CMS officials walked back that threat within days and said a week later that Porter Novelli’s subcontract with O’Donnell, a longtime GOP consultant, would not be renewed. But CMS never provided any explanation of O’Donnell’s role or responsibilities. O’Donnell declined to comment for this article.

Corry said Porter Novelli handled finding consultants including O’Donnell, Barlow and Stevens and the finer details of their contracts. “We have no idea what they’re paid per hour,” he said.

Stevens — a former Condoleezza Rice aide who did two short stints in the Trump administration in 2017 — pitched Verma to media outlets like Fox News, CBS and NBC, as well as for events hosted by the Milken Institute and other organizations. Widely known for her extensive Rolodex, Stevens generally has avoided the health journalists who regularly cover CMS in favor of brokering conversations with media executives or lifestyle reporters, and shepherding Verma to after-hours networking events with prominent journalists.

She also came to CMS with a reputation for securing flattering profiles of Republican women, an effort she developed as a House GOP strategist and continues to cultivate as a consultant. “Proud to have made this great piece happen,” she posted on Facebook on Feb. 20, linking to a Glamour magazine article about Rep. Elise Stefanik’s (R-N.Y.) effort to recruit more Republican women to Congress.

Stevens has played a similar role securing opportunities for Verma to showcase her work within the administration. In recent weeks, her outreach led to Verma’s appearance on POLITICO’s “Women Rule” podcast, which profiles women leaders, and she worked on Verma’s appearance on a panel hosted by Woman’s Day magazine. (Verma’s interview at a POLITICO policy event last July predated Stevens’ involvement with CMS.)

CMS’ Corry said Stevens was used to book interviews for Verma but is being phased out. “Her time is getting less and less anyway,” he said. Corry also noted that he has his own network after 25 years in the field, including being friendly with the editor of The Wall Street Journal’s opinion section and other reporters, and could fill Stevens’ role.

Nahigian Strategies, a GOP-aligned public relations firm, has managed a wide variety of CMS communications functions for nearly two years. Its consultants have set up meetings and accompanied Verma around the nation to promote her key projects, like a March 2018 trip to a Las Vegas health technology conference to unveil Verma’s digital health initiatives aimed at giving patients easier access to their own medical records.

“Check out this op-ed placed in Recode on how the @RealDonaldTrump admin is leading in giving patients their health info,” the Nahigian Strategies Twitter account posted a week after the Las Vegas trip.

CMS’ Corry said the Nahigian Strategies team helped Verma with travel, planning and other logistical issues. “It’s pretty basic stuff,” he said.

Verma also relied on subcontracting to bring aboard longtime associate Barlow — after the White House blocked him from a permanent job leading CMS communications. Barlow, who served as a spokesperson for Verma’s health care consulting firm in Indiana, had run afoul of the White House for writing a column critical of Trump, POLITICO reported at the time.

Nahigian Strategies hired Barlow instead in March 2017, which helped the firm strengthen its relationship with Verma. When Barlow left Nahigian Strategies in August 2018 to return to his own consulting firm, he continued to work for CMS under a separate subcontract that remains in effect, according to two individuals with knowledge of the arrangement.

Barlow helped write some of Verma’s most high-profile speeches, including a November 2017 address in which she signaled the Trump administration’s plan to require some Medicaid enrollees to work to keep their coverage for the first time — a controversial policy that a federal judge blocked for the second time on Wednesday.

“Believing that community engagement requirements do not support or promote the objectives of Medicaid is a tragic example of the soft bigotry of low expectations consistently espoused by the prior administration,” Verma said in the speech that Barlow helped write. “Those days are over.”

Advocates panned Verma’s remarks, contending she misrepresented the patients that she was appointed to serve. The speech “was rife with offensive rhetoric about the Medicaid program and individuals enrolled in it,” the National Women’s Law Center said.

Verma’s remarks also stunned Schneider, the former Obama appointee — who called them “reprehensible” at the time. But Schneider said he’s more surprised to learn that Verma and her staff don’t always write their own speeches, like CMS did when he worked there in 2016.

“I actually thought that her [Medicaid] speech was in her own voice,” he said.

Members of Congress Discuss Democrats’ Agenda of Lower Costs and Better Care; Call Out Trump’s Health Care Sabotage on Press Call

Full press call audio here

Protect Our Care, Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo, Rep. Lauren Underwood and Rep. Angie Craig Speak Out  

Washington, DC – On a press call yesterday, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Chair of the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Rep. Angie Craig (MN- 2) along with Protect Our Care highlighted legislation introduced by House Democrats that will improve the nation’s health care system by strengthening protections for people with pre-existing conditions and lowering the cost of health care. That legislation includes Rep. Underwood’s Health Care Affordability Act, which expands coverage to over nine million Americans, and Rep. Craig’s State Health Care Premium Reduction Act, which helps to lower the cost of insurance premiums.

Participants on the call also discussed President Trump’s reckless health care sabotage, including his administration’s decision this week to push for dismantling the entire Affordable Care Act, which would rip away health care and raise costs for millions of Americans.

“In November, Democrats made a promise to the American people to lower their health care costs and undo the Trump Administration sabotage of the ACA, and this week the Democratic House is delivering on that promise,” said Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo. “On Wednesday, we passed twelve bills out of the Health Subcommittee that lower the costs of prescription drugs and make health care more affordable, while the Trump Administration tries to take health care away from millions of Americans.”

“Every American deserves access to quality and affordable health care, and I’m excited to work with my Democratic colleagues to strengthen and approve the nation’s health care system and lower prices for the American people,” said Congresswoman Lauren Underwood. “The legislation I introduced this week, which expands accessibility for premium tax credits for all income brackets and immediately lowers premiums for anyone who buys a marketplace plan, is part of an incredible step forward to giving Americans better health care at a lower cost.”

“In my conversations with hardworking families, the number one issue they want to tackle is healthcare – because they are experiencing the heart of the problem: if health care isn’t affordable, it isn’t accessible,” said Congresswoman Angie Craig. “That’s why I’ve been leading efforts to lower the cost of health insurance premiums through the State Health Care Premium Reduction Act and am grateful it has been incorporated into the Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions & Making Health Care More Affordable Act of 2019, which we are introducing yesterday to protect people with pre-existing conditions from unfair treatment and lower the cost of healthcare.”

“Thanks to the leadership of Chairwoman Eshoo and Representatives Underwood and Craig, Democrats are moving forward with an aggressive agenda that lowers health care costs, improves care, and reverses Republican sabotage,” said Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach. “The contrast could not be clearer: Democrats are more focused than ever on delivering their promise of lower costs and better care, while Trump continues to sabotage the health care system and tries to rip health care away from millions of Americans.”

Full press call audio here

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Protect Our Care Reacts To Judge Striking Down Another Key Part of Trump’s War on Health Care

Washington, DC — Today, after a federal judge ruled that the Trump association health plan rule is illegal, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement in response;

Once again, a key part of the president’s relentless war on health care has been ruled illegal and struck down by the courts. President Trump is hell bent on gutting protections for 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, and on giving insurance companies more power to sell you policies that won’t cover you when you get sick, while they pad their profits.  That’s the Republican vision for health care: higher costs, worse care.”

Trump’s Rally in Michigan Tonight Overshadowed by His Attempt To Sabotage Health Care and Strip Coverage From 720,000 Michiganders

Washington, DC — As President Trump heads Michigan tonight for a rally, his visit is overshadowed by a brutal week of coverage of his support for dismantling the entire health care system as members of his own party slam his reckless attempt to strip health care from millions of Americans. In response to tonight’s rally, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“No amount of lies from President Trump tonight will erase the fact that he’s hell bent on ripping health care away from millions of Americans, including over 720,000 Michiganders who would lose coverage if his lawsuit is successful. While Democrats were busy passing bills this week to improve the nation’s health care system, President Trump doubled down on his health care sabotage efforts, making clear he supports stripping health care from over 20 million Americans. Trump is trying to change the subject, but voters know that he’s stripping away their health care while Democrats are making good on their promise to save it.”

Background:

Fact Sheet: Health Care In Michigan

Michigan Quick Facts

Impact of the Affordable Care Act In Michigan

As Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration continue to try to repeal and sabotage the Affordable Care Act, more people are learning that the law is working for them, which may be why the law is now more popular than ever.

Here is how the Affordable Care Act is working in Michigan.

618,000 Michiganders Gained Health Coverage. Because of the ACA, 618,000 Michiganders gained health coverage.

Insurers can no longer deny or drop coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Because of the ACA, insurers in the individual market can no longer drop or deny coverage, or charge you more, because of a pre-existing condition. Roughly 4,110,300 Michiganders have a pre-existing health condition.

Women no longer charged more than men. Because of the ACA, insurers can no longer charge women more than men for the same care.

Ended annual and lifetime limits. Because of the ACA, insurers can no longer put annual or lifetime limits on the care you receive.

Young adults can stay on their parents plan until age 26. Because of the ACA, roughly 73,000 young adults in Michigan have coverage because they can stay on their parents coverage until age 26.

Allowed states to expand Medicaid. Because of the ACA, states can get additional federal money to expand Medicaid. 688,300 Michiganders have coverage because of this program.

Free preventive care. Because of the ACA, health plans must cover preventive services — like flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception, and mammograms – at no cost to consumers. This includes nearly 4,543,547 Michiganders, most of whom have employer coverage.

Comprehensive Coverage. Because of the ACA, insurers have to cover what are known as “essential health benefits,” such as maternity care, prescription drugs, and substance and mental health.

Tax credits are available to help people afford coverage. Because of the ACA, most people getting coverage on the marketplace qualify for tax credits to help pay for coverage.

Helping seniors afford prescription drugs. Because of the ACA, the Medicare prescription drug donut hole is closed. As a result, 203,864 Michigan seniors are saving $266.5 million on drugs in 2017, an average of $1,307 per beneficiary.

“It Is The Equivalent Of Punching Yourself In The Face Repeatedly” GOP In Disaster Mode As Party Tries To Strip Health Care From Millions

From statehouses to Congress to the White House, Republicans across the country have spent the last years relentlessly attacking Americans’ health care. However, now that Trump administration has taken its most public step yet in choosing to fully back a lawsuit that would repeal health care, Republicans are in full disaster mode  — outraged not at what Trump is doing, but rather at the public mess he’s causing by so clearly showing where they stand on health care.

A slew of Republican officials recognize the mess they’re in:

Tom Davis, Former Head Of National Republican Campaign Committee: “The Average Health-care Recipient Won’t Say, ‘It’s The Evil Courts That Struck It Down’…They’ll Say, ‘Oh Trump Stuck It Down.’” “‘The average health-care recipient won’t say, ‘It’s the evil courts that struck it down,’’ said Tom Davis, former head of the National Republican Campaign Committee. ‘They’ll say, ‘Oh, Trump struck it down.’ That’s the problem. So there has to be a Plan B. And with Democrats controlling the House you’ll get a Plan B- at best.’” [Daily Beast, 3/26/19]

GOP Strategist: “I Just Don’t Understand How Many Times We Have To Play This Game To Finally Learn The Lessons.” “‘I just don’t understand how many times we have to play this game to finally learn the lessons. We have seen how this turns out, and it ain’t pretty for us,’ one Republican strategist who worked on midterm elections told CBS News. ‘The strategy needs to be keeping the focus on Democrats…not on us.'” [CBS News, 3/28/19]

Senior Republican Leadership Aide: “Whoever Planted This Idea In The President’s Head Should Be Drawn And Quartered.” “‘I feel comfortable saying that I speak for almost, if not all, Republican senators when I say that this is the last thing they want to discuss,’ said one senior Republican leadership aide. ‘Whoever planted this idea in the president’s head should be drawn and quartered.'” [CBS News, 3/28/19]

Senior Republican Aide On Trump Decision: “It Is The Equivalent Of Punching Yourself In The Face Repeatedly.” ‘It’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard,’ a senior Republican aide told the Post. ‘It is the equivalent of punching yourself in the face repeatedly.'” [Talking Points Memo, 3/27/19]

Top GOP Strategist: “WTF Is Wrong With Them?” “‘They are completely tone deaf,’ texted one of the party’s top strategists. ‘How bout a few more victory laps on Mueller while you can get away with it? WTF is wrong with them?’” [Daily Beast, 3/26/19]

Former Administration Official: “And There’s Something Unusual About Him Stepping On A Good Message?” “But seasoned Trump hands were hardly surprised at the rake Trump had placed his foot on. ‘And there’s something unusual about him stepping on a good message?’ one former administration official said, laughing when asked about the timing of the announcement.” [Daily Beast, 3/26/19]

Unnamed Republican Senator: “We Would Be Crazy To Try To Go Through What We Went Through Again.” “Another Republican senator said, ‘We would be crazy to try to go through what we went through again,’ referring to the failed 2017 effort to repeal ObamaCare, which fell one vote short in the Senate.” [The Hill, 3/27/19]

Another Unnamed Republican Senator: “It Doesn’t Seem To Make Sense Politically.” “‘It doesn’t seem to make sense politically,’ said one Republican senator, who questioned why Trump would give Democrats a new avenue of attack.” [The Hill, 3/27/19]

 

As do a variety of media reports:

GOP’s Top Pollsters Told Daily Beast That Private Data Showed Health Care Cost Republicans More Than A Dozen House Seats In 2018. “One of the party’s top pollsters told The Daily Beast that private data showed that the issue of health care had likely cost Republicans more than a dozen seats in the House in 2018. ‘It was mostly all pre-existing conditions,’ the pollster said. ‘Where they got the big run. Where they went from 20 seats to winning 40 seats, was on health care.’” [Daily Beast, 3/26/19]

Washington Post: Republicans Blast Trump For Making It Harder For Them To Lie About Health Care. “Now Trump publicly recommitted his party to total repeal, which has got Republicans angry with him. But what’s amusing is that this actually is the GOP’s current stance. Sure, Republicans are rhetorically committed to keeping some form of protections for preexisting conditions (just not the ones Obamacare has put in place). But as Peter Suderman notes, there’s still no serious GOP plan for actually doing this, precisely because Republicans won’t make the hard policy choices necessary to create such a plan. So their position, functionally, is still full repeal. Republicans just want to be able to say they’re also for protecting preexisting conditions, without saying how.” [Washington Post, 3/27/19]

Axios: Trump’s Going It Alone On ACA Lawsuit. “Congressional Republicans are not happy about President Trump’s decision to up the ante in the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act… Other Republican lawmakers and aides told Axios they can’t fathom why the president would want to re-litigate an issue that has been a clear loser for Republicans — especially while riding a pretty good news cycle…The bottom line: Republicans are in this boat now, like it or not.” [Axios, 3/28/19]

New York Times: Trump Sided With Mick Mulvaney In Push To Nullify Health Law. “Mr. Trump has declared that he has kept his promises, Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Grogan argued, and as a candidate he campaigned on repealing the health law. His base of voters would love it. Besides, they argued, Democrats have been campaigning successfully on health care, and Republicans should try to claim the issue for themselves…As Republicans pointed fingers, House Democrats began moving legislation on Wednesday to ensure safeguards for people with pre-existing conditions and to hold down the costs of health insurance and prescription drugs. Ms. Eshoo, the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, said the bills were needed to counter what she described as ‘a monstrous attack’ on the health law by the Trump administration.” [New York Times, 3/27/19]

McConnell’s Leadership Team Incensed At Trump Administration for Rekindling A Fight That Served Democrats Well In 2018. “Members of Mr. McConnell’s leadership team were incensed at Mr. Mulvaney and allies like the acting White House budget director, Russell Vought, for rekindling a fight that served Democrats so well in 2018 and could harm vulnerable incumbents in 2020, according to two senior aides with direct knowledge of the situation. The maneuver may make it much less likely that Mr. Vought, the chief of staff’s handpicked successor to head the Office of Management and Budget, will be confirmed by the Senate, the aides said.” [New York Times, 3/27/19]

Wall Street Journal: “The White House Is Increasingly At Odds With Congressional Republicans Over The Party’s Health-Care Message For The 2020 Election Campaign.” “A growing number of Republicans in Congress want to focus on transparency, competition and other free-market solutions to rising costs, all as part of their platform for 2020. But Trump administration officials are taking steps to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, including a move this week to help scuttle the law through the courts. Shaping the Trump administration strategy to dismantle the ACA are a handful of key White House policy advisers who have the ear of the president, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. They are also impeding some initiatives by Health and Human Services designed to lower drug pricing, the people said.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/27/19]

Wall Street Journal On Trump’s ‘Plan’: “It Was Difficult To Find Anyone On Capitol Hill Who Could Say How Such An Improvement Might Take Shape.” “‘The president is very clear that he understands the importance of health care,’ said Ms. Collins, who cast a key vote against the GOP effort to kill the ACA in 2017. ‘In order to do that, he has to have a detailed plan that is going to be an improvement over the ACA.’ As of Wednesday, it was difficult to find anyone on Capitol Hill who could say how such an improvement might take shape, a fact that Democrats were quick to note.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/27/19]

The Hill: GOP Senators Blindsided By Trump On Obamacare. “If Trump had told GOP senators of his plans, they say they would have sought to convince him not to throw their party back into a war over health care — the issue Democrats believe was instrumental to their takeover of the House in last year’s midterms…But the 2020 map is seen as more challenging, and many in the GOP can’t understand why Trump would plunge them into a fight over health care just as he was surfing a wave of good news brought by the end of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.” [The Hill, 3/27/19]

CBS News: Trump’s Pivot To Health Care Catches Republican Lawmakers Flat-footed. “Fresh off what he and his allies saw as a major victory in the conclusion of the special counsel investigation, President Trump surprised his party this week by embracing a politically perilous subject: health care…The GOP’s failed attempt to repeal Obamacare in 2017 had a galvanizing effect among Democrats. CBS News exit polling from the 2018 midterms found health care to be the top issue for voters in an election where Democrats picked up 40 House seats. And 54 percent of midterm voters disapproved of the president…The issue of health care is again center stage for Democrats as their 2020 presidential primary ramps up.” [CBS News, 3/28/19]

New Video Highlights the Political Consequences of Trump’s Reckless Attack on Health Care and Speaker Pelosi’s Response

Washington, DC — Protect Our Care is releasing a new video today that contrasts Democrats’ efforts this week to improve the health care for millions of Americans with the Trump administration’s brazen escalation of their attempts to destroy our health care.

Voters sent a clear message in the midterms that they want lower costs, better care, and an end to Republican sabotage of their health care. Democrats responded with legislation that lowers premiums for millions, protects people with pre-existing conditions, and takes the power away from insurance companies and gives it back to people. Meanwhile President Trump administration’s reckless decision to go to court to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act will rip health care away from millions, increase costs, and gut protections for people with preexisting conditions.

Watch the video here

Background:

If the Affordable Care Act is struck down:

  • GONE: Protections for 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. The uninsured rate will increase by 65 percent.
  • GONE: Medicaid expansion, which covers 17 million people.
  • GONE: Nearly 12 million seniors will have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare ‘donut hole’ will be reopened.
  • GONE: 2.3 million adult children will no longer be able to stay on their parents’ insurance.
  • GONE: Insurance companies will be able to charge women 50 percent more than men.
  • GONE: Financial assistance that helps 9 million people purchase health care in the marketplace.
  • GONE: Key support for rural hospitals. As Americans lose coverage, already struggling hospitals will be hit even harder as their costs increase.
  • GONE: Ban on insurance companies having lifetime caps on coverage.
  • GONE: Requirements that insurance companies cover prescription drugs and maternity care.

Federal Judge’s Decision to Strike Down Medicaid Work Requirements is Another Rejection of the Trump Administration’s War on Health Care

Washington, DC — Following Judge James Boasberg’s decision to strike down the Trump Administration’s Medicaid work requirements, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“Judge Boasberg made the right decision under the law by rejecting work requirements for Medicaid. Medicaid is a program designed to keep people healthy, and today’s decision makes that very clear. If the Trump Administration really believed in health care, they would learn their lesson and abandon their relentless war on the health care of millions of Americans.”

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