Monthly Archives

May 2019

Utah Republicans Defy the Will of Voters By Proposing to Ration Health Care for Utahns

Washington DC — Today, Utah Governor Gary Herbert introduced a proposal to drastically ration health care for Utahns enrolled in Medicaid. This follows Utah Republicans’ vote earlier this year to overturn a ballot measure voters approved in November to expand Medicaid. In response to Utah Republicans’ actions to further undermine Medicaid expansion, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“By proposing to ration health care for large numbers of Utahns, Republicans are once again defying the will of voters who overwhelmingly approved Medicaid expansion in November. Unfortunately, the governor’s proposal to roll back the program is no surprise, and is just the latest part of the war on Medicaid led by President Trump, CMS Administrator Verma and their allies in Congress. It’s time for Republicans to stop undermining Medicaid and sabotaging our health care laws and start lowering costs and protecting the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.”

SHOT/CHASER: A Year Ago Today Trump Claimed Drug Companies Would Make ‘Massive’ Price Cuts, But Drug Prices Have Continued to Skyrocket

SHOT: One Year Ago Today: Trump Claims Drug Companies Will Announce ‘Massive’ Price Cuts Soon. “President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he expects major drug companies to slash prices on their products in two weeks, but did not provide details on which companies would do so or how such reductions would be made.” [Reuters, 5/30/18, Dan Diamond Twitter, 5/30/19]

CHASER: The Price Of Prescription Drugs Has Continued To Increase In The Year Since Trump’s Announcement. “Drugs continue to get more expensive. During the first quarter of 2019, the average list price, the price set by the manufacturer, for all brand and generic drugs increased by 2.9%. Over 500 brand name medications saw a list price increase in January, 2019…The large number of drugs that increased in price by over 9.0% is not a coincidence. As the conversation regarding drug prices has heated up over the past couple of years, manufacturers have slowly taken a pledge to keep price increases below 10% annually—but they continue to push the limit and raise prices by 9.9%.” [GoodRx, 5/2/19]

SHOT/CHASER: Drug Company CEOs Earn Millions While Seniors Pay More

SHOT: Big Pharma CEOs Take Home Some Of The Biggest Pay Packages. Health care executives take home the biggest pay packages, and pharmaceutical CEOs represented 11 of the 25 highest compensation amounts last year. The CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals led the pack, making $118 million. [Associated Press, 5/24/19; Axios, 5/16/19]

CHASER: Seniors’ Spending On Cancer Drugs Has Soared. Why? Though the Affordable Care Act closed the Medicare prescription drug donut hole, drug companies have increased prices, offsetting seniors’ savings. [Axios, 5/29/19]

CHASER: Big Drug Companies Shut Down Shareholder Proposals To Disclose Whether Higher Drug Prices Fuel Lavish Bonuses For Top Executives. “The shareholder proposals failed by large margins at AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Vertex. Each company vigorously opposed them…The proposals would have urged companies to create reports detailing ‘the extent to which risks related to public concern over drug pricing strategies’ are part of executives’ bonuses, if at all.” [Axios, 5/29/19]

The Trump Campaign Decides to Weaponize Health Care for 2020: Yeah, Right!

Washington, DC – In a Reuters article released today, President Trump’s 2020 campaign claimed that they have “taken back” the issue of health care from Democrats in advance of 2020, and that they will be touting reforms they’ve made to make health care better. Brad Woodhouse, executive of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in response:

“President Trump and his campaign’s belief that they can take the issue of health care back from Democrats is just plain delusional, and the American people know better. It’s clear that health care is the most important issue for Americans, and that Americans overwhelmingly agree that President Trump is waging a war on their health care. If the Trump campaign thinks its a genius idea to frame the promotion of junk plans and stripping millions of their coverage through the Texas lawsuit as a winning issue, while Democrats continue to work to lower costs and provide better care, be my guest.”

Connecticut Leaders Announce Major Legislation to Improve and Lower the Cost of Health Care

The “Connecticut Option” Takes Bold Steps to Lower the Cost of Health Insurance and Reduce the Cost of Prescription Drugs for Families and Small Businesses

Washington, DC – Today, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, along with Comptroller Kevin Lembo and legislative leaders put forward the “Connecticut Option,” a health care proposal that will give individuals and small businesses the chance to buy high quality health care with lower premiums and lower costs across the individual market. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in response:

“The Connecticut Option is a major step forward for Connecticut, and should serve as a model for every state that wants to improve health care. This proposal will lower premiums and increase financial assistance to give Connecticut residents more affordable options and high quality coverage. It will also restore Medicaid to thousands who lost access to the program in recent years. Every American deserves quality and affordable health care, and under the leadership of Governor Lamont, Comptroller Lembo, and the state legislature, the Connecticut Option will make that possible.”

Connecticut Leaders Announce Major Legislation to Improve and Lower the Cost of Health Care

The “Connecticut Option” Takes Bold Steps to Lower the Cost of Health Insurance and Reduce the Cost of Prescription Drugs for Families and Small Businesses

Washington, DC – Today, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, along with Comptroller Kevin Lembo and legislative leaders put forward the “Connecticut Option,” a health care proposal that will give individuals and small businesses the chance to buy high quality health care with lower premiums and lower costs across the individual market. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in response:

“The Connecticut Option is a major step forward for Connecticut, and should serve as a model for every state that wants to improve health care. This proposal will lower premiums and increase financial assistance to give Connecticut residents more affordable options and high quality coverage. It will also restore Medicaid to thousands who lost access to the program in recent years. Every American deserves quality and affordable health care, and under the leadership of Governor Lamont, Comptroller Lembo, and the state legislature, the Connecticut Option will make that possible.”

Senators Tammy Baldwin and Doug Jones Introduce Legislation To Reverse Trump’s Junk Plan Expansion

Washington, DC – Today, Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Doug Jones (D-AL) introduced the “No Junk Plans Act,” a bill that reverses the Trump administration’s expansion of junk insurance plans that do not protect patients with pre-existing conditions. This legislation, cosponsored by the entire Senate Democratic caucus, is a companion to H.R. 987, the bill that passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives last week. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, praised the legislation in a statement:

“First the House, now the Senate under the leadership of Senators Baldwin and Jones is taking much needed action to end the Trump administration’s push to expand junk insurance plans that discriminate against Americans with a pre-existing condition. Junk insurance plans supported by Trump and Congressional Republicans are disastrous for the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions — especially those who have bought these plans without knowing that they can exclude coverage for essential services like maternity care, prescription drugs, and cancer treatment. If Republicans truly cared about protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions, they would support this bill instead of blindly following Trump in his ongoing war on America’s health care.”

BACKGROUND:

Already, junk plans are devastating consumers who get sick:

Stephanie Sena Contracted Sepsis And Needed Amputation — Her Junk Insurance Wouldn’t Pay. “Stephanie Sena was about to have half her foot amputated, an urgent procedure to keep a blood infection from spreading to the rest of her body. But the surgeon required payment up front and the insurance plan that the 39-year-old Villanova University adjunct professor bought months earlier was refusing to pay. She had less than 24 hours to come up with $1,920. Sena’s insurance plan, it turned out, was not real health insurance. It was an accident and sickness hospital indemnity plan that paid a set dollar amount for certain services. This surgery was not on the list. She has since gotten a $1,725 refund for seven months of premiums, after The Inquirer contacted the company, but that will barely put a dent in the $19,000 medical debt she’s accumulated since enrolling in a plan that covers virtually nothing.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/5/19]

Short Term Plans Deceive Consumers Like Milton Rodriguez, Who Learn Their Plans Don’t Cover Emergency Room Services After Going To The Hospital For Emergency Room Services. “If there was ever a time Rodriguez needed health insurance, this was that time. He called an insurance broker who had reached out to him when he was shopping around for a plan. ‘I called at night and just needed something that would cover me right away,’ Rodriguez said.The broker sent a policy, which Rodriguez approved. He then sent a payment to the insurance company. The broker told him he’d be covered starting at 12 a.m. As soon coverage kicked in, Rodriguez went to the closest hospital, St. David’s in South Austin. It turned out he had appendicitis. While he was waiting for a bed in the ER, hospital staff took his insurance information. He had surgery and was sent home to recover. Rodriguez started getting phone calls from doctors and the hospital asking about his insurance plan. ‘And then the next thing I know is, I get my bills in the mail and it seems like the most important part – which was the emergency room, everything that happened within the emergency room – none of that was covered,’ he said. His bill: $62,620. At the bottom of that bill, there was a code explaining why coverage wasn’t applied: ‘This policy does not provide benefits for services provided in the emergency room.’” [KUT, 10/31/18]\

Consumers are often sold these plans intentionally and misleadingly:

Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Finds Consumers Searching Online For ACA Compliant Plans Are Often Directed, Instead, To Junk Plans. “Our marketing scan suggests that consumers shopping online for health insurance, including those using search terms such as ‘Obamacare plans’ or ‘ACA enroll,’ will most often be directed to websites and brokers selling STLDI or other non–ACA compliant products. These websites and brokers often fail to provide consumers with the plan information necessary to inform their purchase. Brokers selling STLDI over the phone push consumers to purchase the insurance quickly, without providing written information…Even during ACA open enrollment, only 19 percent of searches using the previously delineated terms returned sites offering solely ACA-compliant plans. Before open enrollment, the return was less than 1 percent. Generally, regardless of the search terms used, companies selling short-term plans dominated the returns. However, short-term plan insurers’ and brokers’ sites appeared more frequently when we searched for ‘short-term health insurance.’” [Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, 1/31/19]

New York Times: Federal Officials Shut Down Sales Of ‘Ruinous’ Health Insurance Plans. “‘There is good cause to believe’ that the Florida companies have sold shoddy coverage by falsely claiming that such policies were comprehensive health insurance or qualified health plans under the Affordable Care Act, Judge Darrin P. Gayles of the Federal District Court in Miami said in a temporary restraining order issued last week at the request of the Federal Trade Commission…The trade commission said the financial consequences of the misrepresentations ‘have been ruinous for consumers, many of whom do not realize’ the limits of the coverage until they incur substantial medical expenses. The commission described Mr. Dorfman as ‘the architect of this scam’ and said he had ‘siphoned millions of dollars of proceeds from defrauded consumers to pay for private jet travel, gambling sprees in Las Vegas, the rent for his oceanfront condominium, luxury automobiles, over $1 million in jewelry, and even the nearly $300,000 cost of his recent wedding at the St. Regis Hotel in Miami.’” [New York Times, 11/5/18]

The Federal Trade Commission Condemned One Company’s Junk Plan Scheme As “Classic Bait-and-Switch Scheme Designed To Trick Consumers.” “The members of the trade commission — three Republicans and two Democrats — voted unanimously to take action against the Florida operation, which the commission described as ‘a classic bait-and-switch scheme designed to trick consumers into paying hundreds of dollars for substandard products under the pretense that they are actually receiving comprehensive health insurance.’” [New York Times, 11/5/18]

For a deeper look at the history of junk plans and scam, take a look at our fact sheet: “Junk Plans Ripe For Fraud, Dangerous For Consumers.

Senator Bob Casey, Protect Our Care Denounce Trump’s Health Care Sabotage On Press Call Ahead of His PA Rally

 

Press call audio available HERE

Washington, DC – Ahead of President Trump’s Pennsylvania rally today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) along with Protect Our Care and Pennsylvania health care advocate Amy Raslevich held a press call to denounce Trump for his continued attacks on American health care. On the call, Senator Casey made clear that Trump’s disastrous Texas lawsuit would decimate Americans’ health care and put the lives of millions of Pennsylvanians at risk. Speakers on the call also discussed a new report on rural health care from Protect Our Care that illustrates the damage that Trump’s health care sabotage will do to Pennsylvania’s rural communities.

“The Trump Administration’s health care agenda betrays rural communities, plain and simple,” Senator Casey said. “From working to end protections for those with preexisting conditions to decimating Medicaid, this Administration is a 24/7 health care wrecking ball for everyday Americans.”

“If Trump’s Texas lawsuit goes through, it will devastate my family,” said health care advocate Amy Raslevich. “When I got my breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, my world stopped. Even with great health insurance, my family racked up nearly half a million dollars in medical bills. I was exceptionally lucky that our health care laws protected me from being locked out of insurance due to my pre-existing condition and eliminated lifetime limits on my spending.”

“President Trump’s war on health care, including his Texas lawsuit that would strip protections from millions of people with pre-existing conditions and gut Medicaid will have devastating consequences for Pennsylvanians, especially those living in rural communities,” said Protect Our Care executive director Brad Woodhouse. “Pennsylvania voters are rejecting Trump’s war on health care, and we are thankful to have leaders like Senator Casey fighting against his reckless acts of sabotage and leading the charge to defend Medicaid and ensure Americans with pre-existing conditions have the protections they need.”  

BACKGROUND:

By The Numbers: Rural Health In Pennsylvania

  • 12 percent of Pennsylvania adults living in rural areas are uninsured, compared to 9 percent living in nonrural areas.
  • Since the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate has fallen by 4 percent in rural parts of Pennsylvania.
  • 22 percent of Pennsylvanians living in rural areas have health coverage through Medicaid.
  • The Affordable Care Act led to a $224 million reduction in Pennsylvania hospitals’ uncompensated care costs. Between 2013 and 2015, Pennsylvania hospitals’ uncompensated care costs decreased by $224 million, or roughly 25 percent.
  • By expanding Medicaid, Pennsylvania helped 758,200 newly eligible Pennsylvanians gain coverage through the program.
  • In Pennsylvania, where lawmakers expanded Medicaid, two rural hospitals have closed since 2010, both of which closed before the state expanded its program. These hospitals include:

Mid-Valley Hospital (Closed in 2014)
Saint Catherine Medical Center Fountain Springs (Closed in 2012)

If the Affordable Care Act is struck down:

 

 

  • GONE: Protections for 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, including 5,329,500 in Pennsylvania. The uninsured rate will increase by 65 percent.
  • GONE: Medicaid expansion, which covers 800,900 Pennsylvanians.
  • GONE: 275,000 Pennsuylvania seniors will have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare ‘donut hole’ will be reopened.
  • GONE: Nearly 90,000 adult children in Pennsylvania 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.

 

 

Protect Our Care Launches “Better Care, Lower Costs” Education and Advertising Campaign in 20 Congressional Districts

Seven Figure Education Program Will Promote, Encourage the Work of House Health Care Champions

 

Washington, DC – Protect Our Care is launching a new, comprehensive, seven figure education and paid advertising campaign called “Better Care, Lower Costs” in 20 Congressional districts. Through this campaign, the American people will learn about what their newly-elected representatives are doing to protect health care for people with pre-existing conditions and reduce health care and prescription drugs costs.

Just last week, Protect Our Care launched its first digital ads in support of these 20 House members that promoted their vote for the “Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act (H.R. 987),” that ends the Trump administration’s push for junk health plans, begins to reduce the costs of prescription drugs, and reverses the Trump administration’s sabotage of open enrollment.

“Two years ago, the Republican Congress voted for health care repeal – gutting protections for people with pre-existing conditions, slashing coverage and raising premiums and prescription drug costs for millions of Americans,” said Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach. “Now President Trump and his allies are trying to do the same thing in court. The Democratic health care Congress is working to protect health care for people when they get sick and lower costs for hard working Americans. We’re going to make sure that despite the clutter and noise of Washington, constituents know when their Member of Congress stands up for health care and fights to lower costs and improve care.”

The programs will be tailored for each district but will include coalition and partnership development, as well as public education through the media and paid advertising. Protect Our Care will have staff in districts, and the program will also utilize the full resources of the Protect Our Care war room in Washington.

The first phase of this program will include the following districts:

  1. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01)
  2. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02)
  3. Rep. Jason Crow (CO-06)
  4. Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-06)
  5. Rep. Abby Finkenauer (IA-01)
  6. Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03)
  7. Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL-14)
  8. Rep. Jared Golden (ME-02)
  9. Rep. Angie Craig (MN-02)
  10. Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03)
  11. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08)
  12. Rep. Haley Stevens (MI-11)
  13. Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-01)
  14. Rep. Andy Kim (NJ-03)
  15. Rep. Susie Lee (NV-03)
  16. Rep. Steven Horsford (NV-04)
  17. Rep. Susan Wild (PA-07)
  18. Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08)
  19. Rep. Conor Lamb (PA-17)
  20. Rep. Colin Allred (TX-32)

What Did House Democrats Do Yesterday? Voted for the “Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act”

With the support of every House Democrat, the House passed the “Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act” last night, with 183 Republicans voting in opposition. The bill takes on the big drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs and cracks down on the Trump administration’s junk insurance plans that discriminate against Americans with pre-existing conditions. Recent polling shows widespread, bipartisan support for these reforms that end Trump’s ongoing sabotage of America’s health care.

See the impact for yourself…

NEW YORK TIMES – “The House on Thursday passed a suite of health care bills that tied shoring up the Affordable Care Act to lowering drug prices, as Democrats tried to hold Republicans to their campaign promises to secure coverage for pre-existing medical conditions and rein in the cost of prescription medicine.”

POLITICO – “The legislation includes three bipartisan drug pricing provisions restricting anti-competitive behaviors by pharmaceutical companies alongside a slate of proposals reversing Trump administration policies designed to undermine the Affordable Care Act.”  

ASSOCIATED PRESS – “Democrats pushed legislation buttressing the 2010 health care law and curbing prescription drug prices through the House.”

WASHINGTON POST – “House Democrats pushed through legislation Thursday to lower prescription drug prices, strengthen the Affordable Care Act and — most significantly — position themselves as the party on the side of health-care consumers as the 2020 election approaches.”

THE HILL – “As part of the package, Democrats voted on three bills that would help remove barriers to generic drugs entering the market, and would crack down on tactics that lawmakers say pharmaceutical companies use to tamp down competition and keep prices high.”

CNN – “The House on Thursday passed a health care package that included several bipartisan bills to lower drug costs…but the legislation would also reverse President Donald Trump’s extension of short-term insurance plans, which don’t have to adhere to all of Obamacare’s rules, so they can reject people with preexisting conditions or charge them higher premiums.”

SHAREBLUE – “Republicans claim to be in favor of reducing prescription drug costs, but their vote against the measure shows they care more about siding with Trump’s efforts to sabotage the health care of millions of Americans.”

WASHINGTON TIMES – “The bill’s measures are designed to bring cheaper generic drugs to market faster, while killing Mr. Trump’s push to let people buy cheaper, bare-bones health-insurance plans instead of what Obamacare requires.”

WASHINGTON EXAMINER – “The bill’s drug provisions, which passed at the committee level with Republican support, aim to outlaw what lawmakers call unfair barriers that impede generic drug entry into the marketplace. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said the new measures would ‘prevent some manufacturers from manipulating the system to extend their monopolies at the expense of consumers.’”