Monthly Archives

December 2019

South Carolina Set to Adopt Draconian New Medicaid Policy That Puts Thousands At Risk of Losing Coverage

Washington, DC — Today, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster alongside CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced the approval of burdensome new Medicaid work requirements on South Carolinians enrolled in the program. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement: 

“South Carolina Republicans ought to be ashamed of themselves with their latest move to gut the state’s Medicaid program by instituting brutal so-called ‘work requirements’ on people who so desperately need access to health care. Make no mistake, this is just another attempt by the Trump administration and state Republicans to sabotage our health care system and kick people off the Medicaid rolls. Even after similar work requirement laws were recently struck down by the courts and proven ineffective, the Trump administration continues to be hellbent on pursuing this draconian policy that put Americans’ health care in harm’s way.

“Medicaid provides life-saving care for more than 900,000 South Carolinans, and if Governor McMaster were serious about expanding health care for his constituents, he would have expanded Medicaid instead of doubling down on trying to destroy the program.”

BACKGROUND

Work Requirements Have Repeatedly Been Struck Down In Court. Judge James Boasberg with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia blocked Arkansas and Kentucky’s work requirement programs in March 2019, deeming the approvals of these proposals as “arbitrary and capricious.” The same judge struck down work requirements in New Hampshire, finding that once again the Trump administration failed to consider how many beneficiaries would lose coverage. 

More Than 18,000 Lost Coverage In Arkansas After The State Imposed Work Requirements. Arkansas was the first state to be allowed to implement Medicaid work requirements and resulted in more than 18,000 losing coverage. In addition to devastating coverage losses, several studies of the program have since revealed that there was little to no evidence the the work requirement actually helped individuals find jobs. A GAO analysis found that the state and federal government spent at least $26 million implementing the failed mandate. 

Work Requirements Cost More And Cover Less. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, these onerous requirements could take health care away from up to 4 Million Americans.  Meanwhile, a recent GAO report found that the administrative costs to implement the failed work requirement programs in five states topped $400 million.

More Than One Million Children Nationwide Have Already Lost Coverage Due To Trump-Backed Efforts To Restrict Medicaid Access. As more than a million children disappeared from Medicaid rolls between 2017 and 2018, health care experts pointed to a “chilling effect” from Trump’s signature policies, including work requirements and frequent eligibility checks. Joan Alker, Executive Director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, said: “This serious erosion of children’s health coverage is due in large part to the Trump Administration’s actions that have made health care harder to access and have deterred families from enrolling their children.” 

Research Confirms Big Pharma’s Claims On H.R. 3 Hurting Innovation Are Not True

Four Reasons Why You Should Ignore Big Pharma’s Fear Mongering 

  1. More Investment ≠ Increased Research and Development. Recent analysis by the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing found that, after receiving billions in tax cuts from Trump’s Tax Cuts And Jobs Act, pharmaceutical companies used these savings to more than double shareholder payouts while only increasing research and development spending by 6 percent in 2018.
  2. Major Drug Companies Often Outsource Research and Development. According to a new analysis from Stat, a majority of top-selling drugs from two of the largest drug companies– Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson — were discovered and developed by third parties, such as universities and academic centers. These findings suggest that “a reduction in pharmaceutical revenues would not have the supposed devastating impact on the level of biopharmaceutical innovation.”
  3. Taxpayers Already Subsidize The Development Of New Drugs. According to Americans for Tax Fairness, the National Institutes of Health spent $100 billion funding research that helped produce all 210 new drugs approved for use in the U.S. between 2010 and 2016. Pharmaceutical companies also receive billions in tax credits for research. 
  4. Drugs Don’t Help People If They Can’t Afford Them. Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans and AFSCME member Jim Riordan spoke at an H.R. 3 press event with Speaker Pelosi saying, “My doctors prescribed Xolair to treat my asthma. The recommended dosage for me is four injections per month, which cost $24,000 a month. Medicare pays for 80%, but that leaves a monthly bill of $4800. My wife and I have a limited income. We simply can’t afford $4,800 a month for one medication. I tried only one injection per month, and now I’m on two per month, but not taking the full dosage is seriously affecting my health.” A 2017 report from the National Academies of Medicine on lowering costs and protecting innovation concluded, “drugs that are not affordable are of little value.” 

Trump’s Evolution on Medicare Negotiation: From #1 Fan to Veto Threat

Starting with his time as a candidate, President Trump has vocally supported giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices. Trump has praised the policy again and again, both on the campaign trail and in the White House. Yet with the House poised to pass the Lower Drug Costs Now Act this week, a bill that finally does what he promised and just months ago he lauded as “great to see,” he threatens it with a veto. President Trump’s hypocrisy on giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower prices isn’t shocking given how time and again he ends up choosing Big Pharma and protecting their profits over siding with Americans who want lower costs.         

To understand Trump’s true hypocrisy on this issue, here’s a timeline of his evolution on Medicare negotiation: 

2016: TRUMP SUPPORTS “BIDDING OUT” DRUGS FOR MEDICARE AND ANYONE WHO OPPOSES IT IS CONTROLLED BY PHARMA

JANUARY 2016: Trump Said He Would “Bid Out” Drugs For Medicare And Save $300 Billion. [Donald Trump, Rally, Farmington, NH, 1/25/16

  • HEADLINE: “Donald Trump Endorses An Idea Liberals Love: Letting Medicare Negotiate Drug Prices.” [Vox, 1/26/16
  • HEADLINE: “Donald Trump Says Medicare Should Negotiate Drug Prices” [Associated Press, 1/26/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “If We Competitively Bid Drugs In The United States, We Could Save As Much As $300 Billion A Year. Think Of That.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Holderness, NH, 2/7/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump Said The Drug Company Lobby Was Preventing Price Negotiations. “We’re not allowed to negotiate. If we negotiated — if we negotiated the price of drugs — and what you do is simple do a favored-nations list, whoever pot — right? Simple. Whoever pays the lowest cost throughout the world for these drugs we get that. And I’d say a 10% discount, right? We would save $300 billion a year. Think of it, one simple thing. But we can’t negotiate with the drug companies because all these guys that I’m running against and others and others won’t allow that to happen. Because the big drug companies have a lobby.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Tampa, FL, 2/7/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “We Don’t Really Negotiate The Price Of Drugs Because We’re Prohibited From Doing So. If We Did, We Would Save Perhaps $300 Billion A Year.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Greenville, SC, 2/15/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “If We Negotiated The Price Of Drugs, We’d Save $300 Billion A Year.” [MSNBC Town Hall, 2/17/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “We’re Going To Put Drugs Out To Bid Folks. And We’re Going To Save $300 Billion A Year.”  [Donald Trump, Rally, Gaffney, SC, 2/18/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump Said He Supported “Bidding Out” Drugs And Doing “A Favored Nations Laws” To Index Drug Prices To International Prices. “ We don’t bid the cost of drugs. We don’t bid it out. If we bid it out we would save approximately $300 billion, OK? $300 billion.”  [Donald Trump, Rally, Charleston, SC, 2/19/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “We Would Save $300 Billion A Year In This Country If We Bid Out Drugs.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Pawleys Island, SC, 2/19/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “If We Bid Out Pharmaceuticals Drugs And Those Things We Would Save Each Year $300 Billion.” “If we bid out pharmaceuticals drugs and those things we would save each year $300 billion.’ Three hundred billion dollars as a country.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Las Vegas, NV, 2/22/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “The Pharmaceutical Industry Takes Care Of All The Senators And All The Congressmen, Have A Very Strong Lobby And They Don’t Want To Bid Our Drugs.”…”If You Bid Them Up We’ll Save $300 Billion.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Virginia Beach, VA, 2/24/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “We’re Going To Change The System, We’re Going To Clean It Up. We’re Going To Clean It Up. You Know, We Could Save As Much As $300 Billion If We Went Out And Bid.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Valdosta, GA, 2/26/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “I Don’t Give A Damn About The Drug Companies. I Don’t Give A Damn.”We don’t bid. Why don’t we bid? Because the drug companies have these guys totally under control. I don’t give a damn about the drug companies. I don’t give a damn. So the money that we’ll save and here’s the end result. The end result is the product will be better.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Bentonville, AR, 2/27/16

MARCH 2016: Trump: “Because Of The Fact That The Pharmaceutical Companies Are Not Mandated To Bid Properly, They Have Hundreds Of Billions Of Dollars In Waste.” [Donald Trump, Republican Presidential Debate, 3/3/16

MARCH 2016: Trump: “We’ll Save Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars Billions Of Dollars By Bidding.” “Essentially we don’t bid our drugs we’re the largest purchaser of drugs in the world. Drugs to make you better. We’re the largest purchaser of drugs in the world and we don’t put it out because the drug companies, they have such a monopoly over these senators that we deal with. ” [Donald Trump, Rally, Wichita, KS, 3/5/16

2017: TRUMP “ABSOLUTELY” STILL IN FAVOR OF PRICE NEGOTIATIONS 

JANUARY 2017: Trump: “The Other Thing We Have To Do Is Create New Bidding Procedures For The Drug Industry Because They’re Getting Away With Murder.” [Donald Trump, Press Conference, New York, NY, 1/11/17

FEBRUARY 2017: Sean Spicer Stated That Trump Was “Absolutely” Still In Favor Of Medicare Price Negotiations. Question: So is he for Medicare negotiating drug prices, or not? Sean Spicer: He’s for it, yes. He wants to make sure — Question: He’s still for it? Spicer:  Absolutely.” [Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, 2/7/17

MARCH 2017: Trump: “We Are Also Going To Work On Bringing Down The Cost Of Medicine By Having A Fair And Competitive Bidding Process.” The cost of medicine in this country is outrageous, many times higher than in some countries in Europe and elsewhere. Why? Same pill, same manufacturer, identical, and it’s many times higher in the United States. You know why? Campaign contributions, who knows? But somebody is getting very rich. We’re going to bring it down and we’re going to have a great, competitive bidding process. Medicine prices will be coming way down, way, way, way down. And that’s going to happen fast.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Louisville, KY, 3/20/17

MARCH 2017: Trump: “We’re Going To Bid Out Drug Prices And We’re Going To Try And Have The Lowest Prices Anywhere In The World From Really The Highest.” We’ll probably need some legislation but we’re going to do it regardless. We have to do it and we’re going to get drug prices way down, way down. Some people think it’s as important as the healthcare measure because people are being ripped off when they need they’re – they need drugs. They need prescription drugs and we’re going to take care of that situation.” [Donald Trump, Meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, Washington, DC, 3/22/17

2018: TRUMP DROPS “CALL FOR MEDICARE TO NEGOTIATE LOWER DRUG PRICES”

MAY 2018: HEADLINE: “Trump to Drop Call for Medicare to Negotiate Lower Drug Prices” [New York Times, 5/10/18

MAY 2018: New York Times: “In A Break From One Of His Most Popular Campaign Promises, He Will Not Call For Medicare To Negotiate Lower Prices With Drug Manufacturers.” “President Trump will lay out on Friday a broad strategy to reduce prescription drug prices, but in a break from one of his most popular campaign promises, he will not call for Medicare to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers, senior administration officials said. [New York Times, 5/10/18

MAY 2018: A “Senior Administration Official” Said “We Are Not Calling For Medicare Negotiation In The Way That Democrats Have Called For.” [New York Times, 5/10/18

MAY 2018: Trump’s Top Health Care Officials “Strenuously Oppose” Medicare Negotiation. “As a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump supported two ideas that are anathema to the pharmaceutical industry: allowing Medicare officials to negotiate prices and allowing consumers to import prescription drugs from Canada and certain other countries where brand-name drug prices are generally lower than in the United States. But top administration officials, like Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, strenuously oppose those ideas.  [New York Times, 5/10/18

MAY 2018: Washington Post: Trump’s Drug Plan Will “Seek To Improve Negotiation Within The Medicare Program, But Not By Using The Government’s Clout To Negotiate For Medicare As Trump Has Previously Proposed.” [Washington Post, 5/10/18

  • Washington Post: “During His Presidential Campaign, Trump Called For The Government To Use Its Clout To Negotiate Medicare Drug Prices, But Senior Administration Officials Said He Would Not Call For That Change — Which Is Stridently Opposed By Drug Companies.” [Washington Post, 5/10/18

MAY 2018: HEADLINE: “Trump Sells Out To The Drug Companies, According To Trump” [Washington Post, 5/11/18

2019: TRUMP CAVES TO BIG PHARMA, ISSUES VETO THREAT ON H.R. 3 

SEPTEMBER 2019: Trump Said It Was “Great To See” Nancy Pelosi’s Prescription Drug Price Bill Which Included Medicare Negotiations.  “Trump praised the rollout of the plan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday, tweeting that ‘it’s great to see Speaker Pelosi’s bill today. Let’s get it done in a bipartisan way!’” [NBC News, 9/20/19

  • SEPTEMBER 2019: HEADLINE: “Trump Praises Rollout Of Pelosi’s Drug Pricing Bill After Mcconnell Rejects The Measure” [NBC News, 9/20/19

NOVEMBER 2019: Trump: “Pelosi And Her Do Nothing Democrats Drug Pricing Bill Doesn’t Do The Trick. FEWER Cures! FEWER Treatments!” [@realDonaldTrump, 11/22/19

DECEMBER 2019: Trump Said He Would Veto H.R. 3. “If H.R. 3 were presented to the President in its current form, he would veto the bill.” [Statement of Administration Policy, HR 3, 12/10/19

SHOT/CHASER: President Trump Threatens To Veto House’s Landmark Drug Price Bill For Including A Policy He Has Repeatedly And Vocally Supported

SHOT: President Trump Threatens to Veto The Lower Drug Costs Now Act Which Gives Medicare the Power To Negotiate For Lower Drug Prices. [Office of Management and Budget, 12/10/19

CHASER: Just A Few Of The Many Times President Trump Has Said He Supports Give Medicare the Power to Negotiate for Lower Drug Prices: 

  • JANUARY 2016: Trump Said He Would “Bid Out” Drugs For Medicare And Save $300 Billion. “Like for instance, drugs with Medicare, they don’t bid them out. They don’t bid them. They pay like this wholesale incredible number, hundreds of — they say like $300 billion could be saved, if we bid them out. We don’t do it. Why? Because of the drug companies, folks.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Farmington, NH, 1/25/16
  • JANUARY 2017: Trump: “The Other Thing We Have To Do Is Create New Bidding Procedures For The Drug Industry Because They’re Getting Away With Murder.” “We’ve got to get our drug industry back. Our drug industry has been disastrous. They’re leaving left and right. They supply our drugs, but they don’t make them here, to a large extent. And the other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry because they’re getting away with murder. Pharma, pharma has a lot of lobbies and a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power and there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don’t bid properly and we’re going to start bidding and we’re going to save billions of dollars over a period of time.” [Donald Trump, Press Conference, New York, NY, 1/11/17
  • MARCH 2017: Trump: “We’re Going To Bid Out Drug Prices And We’re Going To Try And Have The Lowest Prices Anywhere In The World From Really The Highest.” “Elijah Cummings who was here about two weeks ago, who I happen to think is a terrific man. I don’t know if he’ll say that about me, but I will tell you I really liked him a lot. And we were talking about drugs and prescription drugs and the costs. And you go Europe, you go to Canada, you go to other countries and you buy them for a fraction of what you pay in this country. And that’s been a very big subject for him and it’s a subject for me that is very important and we’re going to either do it in healthcare, which I think we’re going to do it in healthcare, or we’re going to do it separately. But we’re going to bid out drug prices and we’re going to try and have the lowest prices anywhere in the world from really the highest.” [Donald Trump, Meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, Washington, DC, 3/22/17

Will President Trump Tell Pennsylvanians the Truth About His Plan to End Medicaid Expansion at Tonight’s Rally?

Washington, DC — As President Trump heads to Hershey, Pennsylvania for a rally tonight, his sure-to-be raucous speech likely won’t include any mention of his plans to sabotage Pennsylvanians’ health care through his ongoing lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act and end Medicaid expansion in the state. Ahead of Trump’s rally, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“Here’s what Pennsylvanians won’t hear tonight — any mention from President Trump about his plans to end the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program and his lawsuit to take away their health care. President Trump’s lawsuit to repeal our health care law would rip coverage away from more than 850,000 Pennsylvanians, strip away protections for 5 million Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions, eliminate key support for rural hospitals, and put access to treatment for people with opioid use disorder in jeopardy. The Republican push to end Medicaid expansion won’t be tolerated in Pennsylvania. Voters are sick and tired of President Trump and his Republican allies playing politics with their health care.” 

BACKGROUND:

If Trump Gets His Way, Pennsylvanians Would Lose Their Coverage

  • 858,000 Pennsylvanians could lose coverage. According to the Urban Institute, 858,000 Pennsylvanians would lose coverage by repealing the Affordable Care Act, leading to a 133 percent increase in the uninsured rate.
  • 89,000 Pennsylvania young adults with their parents’ coverage could lose care. Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of young adults are able to stay on their parents’ care until age 26.
  • 39,000 Pennsylvania children could lose their coverage. Almost three million children nationwide gained coverage thanks to the ACA. If the law is overturned, many of these children will lose their insurance.

If Trump Gets His Way, Insurance Companies Would Be Put Back In Charge, Ending Protections For The 135 Million People Nationwide With A Pre-Existing Condition

  • According to a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress, roughly half of nonelderly Americans, or as many as 135 million people, have a pre-existing condition. This includes:
    • 44 million people who have high blood pressure
    • 45 million people who have behavioral health disorders
    • 44 million people who have high cholesterol
    • 34 million people who have asthma and chronic lung disease
    • 34 million people who have osteoarthritis and other joint disorders
  • 5,253,600 Pennsylvanians have a pre-existing condition, including 634,900 Pennsylvania children, 2,574,000 Pennsylvania women, and 1,366,200 Pennsylvanians between ages 55 and 64. 

If Trump Gets His Way, Medicaid Expansion Would Be Repealed

  • 800,900 Pennsylvanians Enrolled Through Medicaid Expansion Could Lose Coverage. Seventeen million people have coverage through the expanded Medicaid program, including 800,900 in Pennsylvania.
  • Access To Treatment Would Be In Jeopardy For 800,000 People With Opioid Use Disorder. Roughly four in ten, or 800,000 people with an opioid use disorder are enrolled in Medicaid. Many became eligible through Medicaid expansion.
  • Key Support For Rural Hospitals Would Disappear, leaving Pennsylvania hospitals with $1.8 billion more in uncompensated care. 

Nancy Pelosi on the Verge of Making History

Under Speaker Pelosi’s Leadership, House Democrats Prepare to Pass Historic Legislation to Lower Drug Prices and Expand Medicare

Washington, DC — As the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) works its way through the House of Representatives this week, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“Under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, House Democrats this week are poised to pass groundbreaking legislation that will lower drug costs for the American people, stand up to Big Pharma and make historic new investments in Medicare. This bill includes the most comprehensive drug pricing reform in American history and the largest expansion to Medicare benefits in decades. For years Democrats have fought to give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices and to expand Medicare benefits to include vision, dental, and hearing and this bill does both. 

“Unfortunately, Republicans remain in the pockets of the drug industry and their lobbyists, and continue to oppose giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower prices. There is no tool more popular and more effective in lowering costs for the American people, which is why Big Pharma is fighting so hard to oppose H.R. 3 and it’s why any Republican-sponsored legislation that does not give Medicare that power is unacceptable.”

BACKGROUND:

How The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act Reins In Prescription Drug Costs: 

  • The plan gives Medicare the power to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices.
  • Not only will those on Medicare benefit from these savings, but the lower prices would apply to anyone purchasing drugs no matter how they are insured. Prices would go down for those who get insurance from employers and those who buy it directly from insurance companies. Whether you’re a child with asthma, a teen with diabetes or a young parent with a rare illness, this bill will bring drug prices down for everyone. 
  • This plan will stop unjustified price gouging for thousands of medications and require drug companies to lower their prices or pay a penalty. 
  • Drug companies would be penalized if they keep the system rigged and their prices high. 
  • Independent analysts have confirmed this bill reduces prescription costs for patients by up to 55% and saves taxpayers $500 billion.  
  • These savings will be used for a historic expansion of Medicare benefits so it covers hearing, vision, and dental care for the first time.

Protect Our Care’s ongoing work to promote the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) includes hosting more than 40 events, press calls, and roundtables in 14 states plus the District of Columbia, placing op-eds and letters to the editor around the country, releasing polling showing broad bipartisan support for major provisions of the bill and $2 million on digital and connected TV advertising in 20 targeted congressional districts.   

Lower Drug Costs Now Act Is A Historic Expansion of Medicare, Invests In Search For New Cures And Saves Taxpayers $500 Billion

Washington, DC Today, House Democrats announced new guidance from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) that will confirm that, by giving Medicare the power and the tools to negotiate, the bill will save taxpayers approximately half a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. The bill will use those savings to invest in a historic expansion of Medicare to include new benefits such as dental, hearing and vision as well as funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to assist in the search for new cures and treatments. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement: 

“The Lower Drug Costs Now Act represents an historic investment in Medicare and historic savings on the cost of prescription drugs. This bill is a win for the American people, full stop. It lowers drug prices by giving Medicare the power and the tools to negotiate for lower drug prices. The half a trillion dollars in savings will be invested into hearing, vision and dental benefits for Medicare beneficiaries and into the life-saving work of the NIH.

“This bill should have the support of every member of Congress if not for Big Pharma’s spending. President Trump and Republicans will face this choice next week: support legislation that lowers the cost of prescription drugs for every American or side with Big Pharma against the interests of virtually everyone. You can well bet if Republicans choose the latter over the former, we will make sure the American people know whose side they are on.”

VOTE ALERT: House To Vote On Lower Drug Costs Now Act Next Week: Will Republicans Stand With American Families Or Continue Defending Big Pharma?

Washington, DC — Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal and Education & Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott announced that Democrats’ landmark drug pricing bill, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) will be brought to the House floor for a vote next week. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement: 

“Thanks to the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, Congress now has the opportunity to take historic action to lower prescription drug prices by passing the Lower Drug Costs Now Act. A vote on this bill puts every member of Congress on the record on whether they stand with the American people or with big drug companies who spend hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions to rig the system to keep prices high. Meanwhile, the White House and Congressional Republicans continue defending big pharma and oppose the single most effective and popular solution to lower costs — giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices. By holding a vote on H.R. 3 next week, Democrats are sending a clear message that they’re united in their mission to lower costs and are ready to deliver for the American people.” 

Reports Highlight Perils of Junk Insurance Plans During Open Enrollment

Americans shopping for health insurance during open enrollment are being warned about the perils of short-term “junk” insurance plans that cost more and cover less. As reports have made clear this past week, brokers often use deceptive marketing tactics to lure people into purchasing these seemingly lower-cost plans, which end up not covering pre-existing conditions and saddling patients with high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. The Trump administration and Republicans have pushed and advocated for these types of junk plans that undermine Americans’ health care. 

Anchorage Daily News (Alaska): Opinion: Alaskans Put At Risk By Junk Health Care Plans. “Junk plans are bad for Alaskans, plain and simple. Designed to skirt the Affordable Care Act’s vital consumer protections, they do not have to provide comprehensive coverage, and they allow insurers to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. When junk plans are allowed to proliferate, consumers are often led to websites where brokers sell non-ACA compliant health insurance plans. Patients end up saddled with huge medical bills when they find out their insurance won’t cover basic things like hospitalization or prescription drugs, sometimes leading to bankruptcy.” [Anchorage Daily News, 11/28/19]

MPR News (Minnesota): Substandard Health Insurance Comes With Low Premiums But High Risk.“Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley said his office has been getting complaints. ‘People were trying to save some money on a plan and then discovered that they were actually going to have to spend more because something wasn’t covered,’ Kelley said.” [MPR News, 11/25/19

Houston Chronicle (Texas): Risky Business: Buying Health Insurance In The New Age Of Deregulation. “Under the Trump administration, significant portions of the individual insurance market have been deregulated and rules governing the federal health care law known as Obamacare rolled back. The goal is to deliver on an administration promise of lower premiums and greater choice. The trade-off, though, is a return to a past when polices came with restrictions and exemptions tucked inside, limiting coverage for pre-existing conditions, prescription drugs, hospitalization and preventative care…Further, because these plans operate outside the rules of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies backing them can spend less on customer medical claims and pocket a bigger share of premiums for overhead and profit.” [Houston Chronicle, 11/27/19

Pennlive (Pennsylvania): Shopping For Health Insurance? Be Wary Of Being Led Into ‘Junk Plans,’ Sen. Bob Casey Jr. Says. It’s the time of year when many Americans are shopping for health insurance and it can be a confusing and daunting task. It’s made more difficult by online advertisements designed to mislead consumers, according to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa. In particular, some of these searches direct customers to “junk plans” that may not cover pre-existing conditions, Casey said.” [Pennlive, 12/2/19

Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania): He Didn’t Know He Had A Pre-Existing Condition – Until His Insurer Rejected His $35,000 Hospital Bill. “Once a common practice, the Affordable Care Act banned major medical plans from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, or medical issues that existed before enrollment. But LaFrance didn’t have major medical insurance. He’d mistakenly purchased short-term limited-duration insurance, a type of plan that has become more readily available under the Trump administration. It’s less expensive, but also less regulated, and is allowed to refuse to pay for services related to pre-existing conditions.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/25/19