Monthly Archives

July 2019

Senate Democrats’ Resolution Would End Trump Administration’s Push to Expand Junk Plans That Discriminate Against People with Pre-Existing Conditions

Washington, DC — Today, Senate Democrats led by Senator Mark Warner (VA) held a press conference announcing the introduction of a resolution to invalidate the Trump administration’s “State Relief and Empowerment Guidance,” which allows states to push harmful junk plans and ignore protections for people with pre-existing conditions put in place by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In response, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“The contrast couldn’t be clearer: Senate Democrats are focused on saving vital protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions by reversing President Trump’s harmful promotion of junk plans, while Republican Senators want to send us back to the days when insurance companies could write the rules and deny coverage or charge more for people with pre-existing conditions. A vote against this resolution shows once again that Republican Senators who claim to protect people with pre-existing conditions are not telling the truth.”

BACKGROUND

Here is what Trump’s 1332 waivers without appropriate guardrail protections could mean for consumers:

  • Protections for people with pre-existing conditions would be essentially meaningless. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said allowing states to waive essential health benefits “could render those protections meaningless” for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • It would be harder for people with pre-existing conditions to get affordable coverage. As Consumers Union stated, allowing states to waive essential health benefits would be “putting meaningful coverage out of reach for many Americans, especially those with chronic and pre existing conditions.”
  • You could pay more for the same coverage. 1332 waivers allow states to adjust the amount of premium tax credits and cost sharing consumers receive to help lower their costs. Without the guardrail to ensure coverage is just as affordable, many consumers could end up paying more for the same care. For example, Iowa and Oklahoma are pursuing waivers that change who can be eligible for tax credits and limiting how those tax credits are adjusted. In addition, Oklahoma wants to be able to charge people over 50 five times as much as younger people.
  • Insurers would not have to cover essential benefits, like maternity care. Right now, every insurance plan must cover the 10 essential health benefits. Because states could opt out of covering these basic benefits, insurers would likely only offer policies that covered much less than they do now. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that the benefits most likely to no longer be covered would be maternity care, mental health or substance abuse coverage. According to the Brookings Institution, the result would be “that no one in a state’s individual market that waived EHBs would have access to comprehensive coverage. Insurers would likely sell separate policies for benefits not covered in their core plan offerings, but these supplemental policies would be subject to tremendous adverse selection, leading to very high premiums and enrollment almost exclusively by those with pre-existing conditions.” For example, a woman who purchases a separate insurance rider for maternity care would have to pay $17,320 more, according to the Center for American Progress. For states that no longer required substance use disorders or mental health to be covered, coverage for drug dependence treatment could cost an extra $20,450.
  • Insurers could reimpose lifetime and annual limits. Allowing states to opt out of the essential health benefits coverage means that insurance companies could once again put lifetime and annual limits on the amount of care you receive. Moreover, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes, this would even impact people with coverage from their employer: “The ACA’s prohibition on annual and lifetime limits is tied to the definition of Essential Health Benefits. Thus, repeal of Essential Health Benefit standards could make this protection meaningless, putting almost all Americans with private health insurance coverage — not just those with individual or small-group market coverage — at risk.” The Center for American Progress estimates that 20 million people with health coverage through their employer would face lifetime limits on coverage, and 27 million would face annual limits.

Trump Administration’s Latest Move on Drug Prices is More About Rhetoric Than Results

Washington, DC — Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a proposal to potentially allow Americans, after a long regulatory process and action by individual states, to import select prescription drugs from Canada, but fails to include any negotiating power for Medicare. Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in response:

“If President Trump and Secretary Azar are serious about standing up to the drug companies, they’ll stop blocking plans that let Medicare negotiate for less expensive drug prices. Instead of taking meaningful action to lower drug prices, the GOP is busy blocking Medicare drug negotiations, filling a lawsuit against health care that would raise drug prices, and gladly giving out hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to drug and insurance companies. It’s clear that when it comes to lowering drug prices, Donald Trump is long on rhetoric and empty on results.” 

BACKGROUND

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.” 

Trump And His Republican Allies Continue To Block Medicare Negotiation For Lower Drug Prices. Even though  86 percent of Americans support allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, Republicans refuse to allow Medicare to negotiate. A 2018 Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Democratic Committee report found that Medicare Part D could save $2.8 billion in a single year if it were allowed to negotiate drug prices. Although it would decrease both federal spending and beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, a policy allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries was recently blocked by Senate Republicans. 

Medicare and Medicaid, Lifelines For Millions of Americans, Still Under Attack by GOP 54 Years After Being Signed Into Law

Washington, DC — 54 years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law. Since then, both programs have improved the well-being of millions of Americans and saved countless lives in the process. Yet Republicans continue to do everything they can to slash their budgets and kick millions of Americans off their coverage. To mark this important anniversary, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“Medicare and Medicaid are crucial lifelines for millions of Americans, but the programs remain under constant assault by Republicans who want nothing more than to gut or out-right end them. From slashing funding for both programs in their budgets, supporting the ongoing Trump-Texas lawsuit to eliminate Medicaid expansion entirely and imposing onerous paperwork requirements for Medicaid coverage, Republicans have stopped at nothing to strip health care from millions of Americans. While President Trump and Republicans’ never-ending war on health care rages on, Medicare continues to provide quality care for American seniors and Medicaid expansion proves to be an unmitigated success that saves the lives of children, families and people with disabilities every single day.”

BACKGROUND

HERE ARE SOME OF THE WAYS REPUBLICANS HAVE TRIED TO UNDERMINE MEDICARE:

  • Trump’s 2020 budget proposal would cut more than $800 billion from Medicare over a decade. Despite repeatedly promising not to cut Medicare, President Trump’s budget would cut roughly 10 percent of Medicare’s funding over the next ten years to help pay for tax cuts to insurance and big drug companies.
  • Trump and his Republican allies support a lawsuit that would overturn the entire ACA and re-open the “donut” hole, forcing seniors to pay more for prescription drugs. If the Republican lawsuit is successful, seniors will have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare “donut” hole got reopened. From 2010 to 2016, “More than 11.8 million Medicare beneficiaries have received discounts over $26.8 billion on prescription drugs – an average of $2,272 per beneficiary,” according to a January 2017 Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services report.
  • As the cost of drugs skyrocket, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress will not allow Medicare to negotiate for better prescription drug prices. Under current law, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is explicitly prohibited from negotiating directly with drug manufacturers on behalf of Medicare Part D enrollees. Although it would decrease both federal spending and beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, a policy allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries was recently blocked by Senate Republicans.

 

WHO GETS HURT FROM THE GOP WAR ON MEDICAID?

  • Children & Families. Roughly 34.9 million children in the United States are enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Nationally, nearly 2 in 5, or 39% of children in America have health insurance through Medicaid, as do 17 Percent of parents. 49 percent of births are covered by Medicaid.
  • Seniors. More than 6.9 million American seniors have Medicaid coverage. More than 8.5 million Americans ages 50 to 64 have health coverage through Medicaid. Medicaid covers 6 in 10 nursing home residents
  • People with disabilities. Nearly 8.7 million adults enrolled in Medicaid have a disability. Of this group, only 43 percent qualify for social security income. More than 1 in 3 adults under age 65 enrolled in Medicaid lives with at least one disability. Medicaid covers 45 percent of nonelderly adults with disabilities, including adults with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, brain injuries, and mental illness.
  • People in rural areas. The ACA has expanded access to health care to nearly 1.7 million rural Americans who have gained coverage through the Medicaid expansion, not only playing a central role in improving rural communities’ health, but also supporting these communities’ economic well-being. Medicaid covers nearly 24 percent of rural Americans, 45 percent of rural children, 15 percent of rural seniors, and pays for 51 percent of rural births. The uninsured rate in rural areas in states that expanded Medicaid has dropped by a median of 44 percent since expansion. 

 

 

 

 

Democrats’ Debate On Ways to Improve Health Care Exposes Republicans’ Plan to Burn Down the Entire System

Washington, DC — In advance of the second Democratic debate in Detroit, Protect Our Care executive director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement about the real political choice voters face when it comes to their health care:

“In Detroit, Democrats will continue to discuss their ideas to lower health care costs and protect coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions, a direct contrast to Republicans who are actively trying to rip away coverage from millions of Americans. While Democrats are discussing ways to improve American health care, Republicans have tripled down on a lawsuit that would overturn our health care: eliminating protections for people with pre-existing conditions while raising premiums and prescription drug costs. No matter how rigorous the debate is on our side, voters know that the real choice on health care is between Democrats who want to improve it and Republicans who want to blow it up.”

Senator Cornyn Should Apologize to People with Pre-Existing Conditions for His Shameful Lie

“Senator Cornyn should immediately apologize to these families for trying to deceive them”

Washington, DC — In the latest outlandish lie to cover up their health care repeal and lawsuit, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) blatantly fabricated an utterly false defense of the Republican opposition to protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Every reputable source has made clear that Republicans’ health care repeal agenda and their lawsuit to overturn health care would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement in response: 

“This outrageous lie about pre-existing conditions is an insult to everyone with a pre-existing condition or a family member with asthma, diabetes, cancer or other diseases. Republicans in Washington like Senator Cornyn have voted repeatedly to repeal protections for pre-existing conditions, and the Trump administration is currently in court to do what they failed to do in Congress. Every one of the bills that Republicans say protected people, did not. Senator Cornyn knows the truth and so do the American people.

“Senator Cornyn should immediately apologize to these families for trying to deceive them. No one facing a serious or chronic illness should be lied to by their public officials. They deserve better.” 

THE LIE:

THE FACTS:

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: KEY STAKEHOLDERS OPPOSE REPUBLICAN EFFORTS TO OVERTURN PRE-EXISTING CONDITION PROTECTIONS

American Cancer Society And Other Leading Patient Groups: Striking Down ACA Provisions Would Be “Catastrophic And Have Dire Consequences For Many Patients With Serious Illnesses.” “If either the plaintiffs’ or the administration’s position were adopted by the court, people with serious illness are likely to be denied coverage due to their preexisting conditions or charged such high premiums because of their health status that they will be unable to afford any coverage that may be offered. Without access to comprehensive coverage, patients will be forced to delay, skip, or forego care. Striking down these provisions would be catastrophic and have dire consequences for many patients with serious illnesses.” [American Cancer Society et. al, 6/14/18]

American Medical Association And Other Key Health Care Groups: “​Invalidating The Guaranteed-Issue And Community Rating Provisions—Or The ​Entire A​CA—Would Have A Devastating Impact On Doctors, Patients, And The American Health Care System As A Whole.” “The ACA’s ‘nationwide protections for Americans with pre-existing health conditions’ has played a ‘key role’ in allowing 3.6 million people to obtain affordable health insurance. Severing those vital insurance reforms would leave millions without much-needed insurance.” [AMA et. al, 6/14/18]

33 Leading Cancer Organizations Spoke Out Against GOP Repeal Bills: “The Senate’s BCRA, Just As The House’s AHCA, Is A Direct Threat To America’s 16 Million Cancer Patients And Survivors Who Rely On Timely And Uninterrupted Access To Comprehensive And Affordable Health Care.” “‘The Senate’s BCRA, just as the House’s AHCA, is a direct threat to America’s 16 million cancer patients and survivors who rely on timely and uninterrupted access to comprehensive and affordable health care,’ said NCCS CEO Shelley Fuld Nasso.” [NCSS, 7/13/17]

NEW VIDEO: Two Years After John McCain’s “Thumbs Down” Vote Blocked Health Care Repeal, The Republican War On Health Care Rages On

Washington, DC – On July 28, 2017 at 1:40 am, a bipartisan majority in the United States Senate gave a thumbs down to President Trump’s top legislative priority: repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Sunday marks the two year anniversary of this fateful vote, and today, health care is still the number one issue on voters’ minds. Last year, the Trump administration backed a lawsuit that goes even further than the Senate repeal bill, and would upend the entire health care system, ripping coverage from 20 million Americans, taking away protections for 130 million Americans with a pre-existing condition and raising costs across the board. 

Watch Protect Our Care’s video on the anniversary here

To mark the two year anniversary of Republicans’ failed health care repeal effort, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“The stinging defeat of his health care repeal bill in the Senate may be one of the most irritating moments of Donald Trump’s presidency, but it didn’t stop him and his Republican allies from doubling down on his health care sabotage agenda. Two years after the ‘thumbs down’ vote on the Senate floor, Trump remains hell bent on repeal, going to court and telling his appointees to do what he could not do in Congress: destroy America’s health care. And Republicans in the House and the Senate are his willing allies, refusing to condemn the Texas lawsuit and voting on party lines against any and all meaningful efforts to reduce costs and improve care.” 

In light of this anniversary, and the GOP’s ongoing war on health care, Protect Our Care’s state teams are targeting House and Senate Republicans across the country with events, protests, tweet storms, email campaigns and other earned media and grassroots tactics this week for their ongoing support of repealing American health care.

BACKGROUND: 

If the Trump-Republican lawsuit to destroy health care is successful:

  • 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.

SHOT/CHASER: Grassley, Senate Republicans Claim To Want Lower Drug Prices, Strike Down Key Drug Price Measure Supported By Their Constituents

SHOT: Republicans in the Senate Finance Committee, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley, voted down an amendment that would give Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices. 

CHASER: An overwhelming majority of Americans – including vast majority of Iowans –  want Medicare to negotiate for drug prices.A new poll from Public Policy Polling shows that 86% of Iowans, including 83% of Iowa Republicans and 81% of Iowans who voted for President Trump, would support legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription prices with drug companies.” [Iowa Starting Line, 7/24/19]

Senate Finance Committee Republicans Block Key Measure to Lower Prescription Drug Costs

Washington, DC — During today’s Senate Finance Committee markup of its drug pricing package, every Republican on the Committee voted against the amendment introduced by Senate Democrats to require Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. In response, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“Senate Republicans on the Finance Committee refused today to take meaningful action to lower the cost of prescription drugs and voted down a Democratic amendment allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. Shamefully, every single one of them refused to stand up to the drug lobby. If Republicans were actually serious about reducing the cost of prescription drugs, they would have supported this amendment. Nearly nine out of ten Americans support requiring Medicare to negotiate for lower drug costs, yet instead of doing what the American people have made clear they want, Republicans shot down the single most effective measure to lower drug prices.”

Protect Our Care Announces Nationwide August Tour Highlighting the Health Care Emergency Created By The Trump-GOP Lawsuit to Overturn Health Care

Care Force One

Protect Our Care Announces 13-State Tour In August

“Care Force One” Will Travel Across the Country from Las Vegas to Bangor to Atlanta, Engaging Americans In The Health Care Emergency Created By Trump’s Lawsuit 

Washington, D.C. – Throughout the August Congressional recess, Protect Our Care will be running a nationwide tour highlighting the health care emergency created by the Trump and Republican lawsuit to overturn health care. Kicking off in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 5th, “Care Force One” will travel throughout the Southwest before making stops across the Midwest and concluding with stops up and down the East Coast. 

Protect Our Care’s “Health Care Emergency Tour” will make stops in key 2020 battleground districts and states for press events with Members of Congress, local elected officials, health care advocates and storytellers to highlight the health care emergency created by the Trump-Republican sabotage and repeal agenda, especially their ongoing lawsuit Texas vs. United States which seeks to destroy the entire health care system. The tour will hold vulnerable Republicans like U.S. Senators Martha McSally (AZ), Cory Gardner (CO), Joni Ernst (IA), Susan Collins (ME), Thom Tillis (NC) and David Perdue (GA) accountable for failing to stop the Trump-Republican war on health care and will promote the work of dozens of newly elected House Democrats who are leading the charge to improve American health care.  

“While Members of Congress go home to their districts this August recess, they’re going to have a chance to show their constituents whether they side with Trump’s lawsuit overturn to health  care or stand with their constituents who are fed up with the GOP’s constant attacks on their health care,” said Protect Our Care executive director Brad Woodhouse. “Throughout this tour, Americans who depend on the health care law and are sick and tired of Trump and his GOP allies’ repeated attempts to destroy their health care will speak out about the health care emergency they’ve created, and Democratic Members of Congress will talk about how they are taking action to lower the cost of health care for families across the country and reverse the GOP’s sabotage.”

If the Trump-GOP lawsuit to overturn health care is successful:

  • 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.

The Protect Our Care “Health Care Emergency Tour” will make stops in: 

Las Vegas, NV on Monday, August 5, 2019

Phoenix, AZ on Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Tucson, AZ on Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Pueblo, CO on Thursday, August 8, 2019 

Denver, CO on Friday, August 9, 2019

St. Paul, MN on Monday, August 12, 2019

Des Moines, IA on Monday, August 12, 2019

Cedar Rapids, IA on Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Lansing, MI on Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Detroit, MI on Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Youngstown, OH on Thursday, August 15, 2019 

Pittsburgh, PA on Thursday, August 15, 2019

Allentown, PA on Friday, August 16, 2019

Scranton, PA on Friday, August 16, 2019 

Bangor, ME on Monday, August 19, 2019

Portland, ME on Monday, August 19, 2019

Manchester, NH on Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Richmond, VA on Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Raleigh, NC on Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Charlotte, NC on Thursday, August 22, 2019

Asheville, NC on Thursday, August 22, 2019

Atlanta, GA on Friday, August 23, 2019

Senate Finance Committee Introduced Drug Pricing Package Without the One Fix That Would Have the Biggest Impact

Washington, DC — Today, the Senate Finance Committee introduced a package that aims to address the cost of prescription drugs, yet does not include negotiating power for Medicare. Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement in response:

“The Senate Finance Committee’s package to address the rising cost of prescription drugs fails to include the one policy that would have the biggest impact: requiring Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs for all consumers – a policy favored by nearly nine in ten Americans and 86 percent of Iowans in Chairman Grassley’s own backyard.”  

BACKGROUND:

PPP Poll: In advance of the Senate Finance Committee considering legislation on prescription drugs, a new Public Policy Polling survey in Iowa—home state of Chairman Chuck Grassley— finds that an overwhelming majority (86%) of Iowa voters support legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to get lower prices for prescription drugs for consumers, with only 5% in opposition.

  • This includes 83% of Iowa Republicans and 81% of Iowans who voted for President Trump in 2016, with only 9% and 8% respectively opposing such legislation. 
  • A further 75% of Iowans disagree with Senator Grassley’s opposition to this legislation, with only 11% of Iowa voters agreeing with him. A majority of Republicans (62-16) and President Trump’s 2016 supporters (62-17) also disagree with Senator Grassley’s opposition to Medicare drug negotiations.