Monthly Archives

February 2020

President Trump is Right, Cory Gardner Has Been With Him “100%” as He Tries to Destroy Coloradans’ Health Care

Washington, DC — Last night at his rally in Colorado, President Trump heaped praise on Senator Cory Gardner, telling the crowd that Gardner has “been with us 100%.” Cory Gardner’s “100%” backing of President Trump includes his unwavering support for the president’s disastrous health care agenda that puts the health care of millions of Coloradans at risk. In response to President Trump’s full-throated endorsement of Senator Gardner, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement: 

“President Trump is right, Cory Gardner has never wavered in his support for the president’s disastrous health care agenda. From refusing to condemn President Trump’s Texas lawsuit that would strip protections from nearly 2.5 million Coloradans with pre-existing conditions, voting to slash over $1 trillion in Medicare and Medicaid and supporting disastrous junk insurance plans that don’t cover protections for pre-existing conditions, when the president says Senator Gardner is with him “100%,” this is what he means. Voters in Colorado know that Gardner has always stood with President Trump while he tries to destroy their health care, and last night’s rally was just further confirmation that his priorities will never change.”

BACKGROUND:

Gardner Has Propped Up Trump-Backed Texas Lawsuit That Would Devastate Coloradans

  • 2018: Gardner Refused To Condemn The Texas Lawsuit: “What I Hope Succeeds Is This Place Getting Together To Find A Way To Drive Down Healthcare Costs.” “I asked Cory Gardner, up in 2020 in a purple state, if he hopes the anti-ACA lawsuit succeeds. Not quite a yes? ‘What I hope succeeds is this place getting together to find a way to drive down healthcare costs,’ says ACA ‘failed’ to do that.” [@PeterSullivan4, 12/18/18
  • 2019: Gardner Said The ACA Was “Unconstitutional.” “Asked if he supported the lawsuit, Gardner replied: ‘That’s the court’s decision. If the Democrats want to stand for an unconstitutional law, I guess that’s their choice.’ Republicans, including Gardner, have said they will provide protections for people with pre-existing conditions if the courts overturn the ACA. But Democrats argue the GOP proposals fall short of the protections enshrined in the 2010 law.” [The Hill, 8/8/19
  • Gardner Voted For The Tax Bill Which Forms The Basis For The Trump-Republican Lawsuit. Gardner was a key vote for the Republican tax bill, which repealed a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that required most people to have health coverage and which is the basis of the Trump-Republican lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act. 
  • Gardner Refused To Support Authorizing The Senate Legal Counsel To Intervene In The Trump-Republican Lawsuit And Defend The ACA. Gardner refused to sponsor a resolution (S. Res. 18), which would authorize Senate legal counsel to defend the Affordable Care Act against attack in Texas v. Azar

If Trump And Gardner Get Their Way, Coloradans Would Lose Their Coverage

  • 400,000 Coloradans Could Lose Coverage. According to the Urban Institute, 400,000 Coloradans would lose coverage by repealing the Affordable Care Act, leading to a 101 percent increase in the uninsured rate.
  • 2,400,600 Coloradans Have A Pre-existing Condition, including 300,500 Colorado children, 1,180,000 Colorado women, and 550,000 Coloradans between ages 55 and 64. 
  • 453,400 Coloradans Enrolled Through Medicaid Expansion Could Lose Coverage. Seventeen million people have coverage through the expanded Medicaid program, including 453,400 in Colorado. 
  • Key Support For Rural Hospitals Would Disappear, leaving Colorado hospitals with $1 billion more in uncompensated care. 
  • 56,531 Colorado Seniors Could Have To Pay More For Prescription Drugs. If the Trump-GOP lawsuit is successful, seniors could have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare “donut” hole would be 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 CMS report. In Colorado, 56,531 seniors each saved an average of $1,081.
  • Reinstate Lifetime And Annual Limits On 1,902,000 Privately Insured Coloradans. Repealing the Affordable Care Act means insurance companies would be able to impose annual and lifetime limits on coverage for those insured through their employer or on the individual market.

Gardner Has Voted To Slash Medicare and Medicaid

  • 2017: Gardner Voted To Cut Medicare By $473 Billion. Gardner voted for the FY 2018 budget resolution, which included $473 billion in cuts to Medicare over 10 years. [H Con Res 71, Vote #245, 10/19/17; Vox, 10/26/17]
  • 2017: Gardner Voted To Slash $1.3 Trillion From Medicaid. Gardner voted for the FY 2018 budget resolution, which cut funding for non-Medicare health programs, most notably Medicaid, by 1.3 trillion, a 20 percent cut over the course of 10 years, increasing to a 29.3 percent cut by 2027. [H Con Res 71, Vote #245, 10/19/17; Vox, 10/26/17]

Cory Gardner Running Into Trump’s Arms and Away from Coloradans with Full Embrace of Disastrous Health Care Agenda at Campaign Rally Tonight

Washington, DC — President Trump’s rally with Senator Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs, Colorado tonight comes after years of Gardner supporting the president’s disastrous war on health care — support that could lead to his defeat in November. Ahead of Trump’s rally, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Cory Gardner has voted seven times to rip coverage from 400,000 Coloradans, making him the perfect foot soldier in President Trump’s war on health care. Senator Gardner refuses to condemn President Trump’s Texas lawsuit that would strip protections from nearly 2.5 million Coloradans with pre-existing conditions, has voted to slash over $1 trillion in Medicare and Medicaid funding and has taken large donations from the drug companies while refusing to support giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices. Colorado voters are sick and tired of Cory Gardner’s health care lies and will reject him and President Trump’s disastrous health care agenda in November.” 

BACKGROUND:

Gardner Has Propped Up Trump-Backed Texas Lawsuit That Would Devastate Coloradans

  • 2018: Gardner Refused To Condemn The Texas Lawsuit: “What I Hope Succeeds Is This Place Getting Together To Find A Way To Drive Down Healthcare Costs.” “I asked Cory Gardner, up in 2020 in a purple state, if he hopes the anti-ACA lawsuit succeeds. Not quite a yes? ‘What I hope succeeds is this place getting together to find a way to drive down healthcare costs,’ says ACA ‘failed’ to do that.” [@PeterSullivan4, 12/18/18
  • 2019: Gardner Said The ACA Was “Unconstitutional.” “Asked if he supported the lawsuit, Gardner replied: ‘That’s the court’s decision. If the Democrats want to stand for an unconstitutional law, I guess that’s their choice.’ Republicans, including Gardner, have said they will provide protections for people with pre-existing conditions if the courts overturn the ACA. But Democrats argue the GOP proposals fall short of the protections enshrined in the 2010 law.” [The Hill, 8/8/19
  • Gardner Voted For The Tax Bill Which Forms The Basis For The Trump-Republican Lawsuit. Gardner was a key vote for the Republican tax bill, which repealed a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that required most people to have health coverage and which is the basis of the Trump-Republican lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act. 
  • Gardner Refused To Support Authorizing The Senate Legal Counsel To Intervene In The Trump-Republican Lawsuit And Defend The ACA. Gardner refused to sponsor a resolution (S. Res. 18), which would authorize Senate legal counsel to defend the Affordable Care Act against attack in Texas v. Azar

If Trump And Gardner Get Their Way, Coloradans Would Lose Their Coverage

  • 400,000 Coloradans Could Lose Coverage. According to the Urban Institute, 400,000 Coloradans would lose coverage by repealing the Affordable Care Act, leading to a 101 percent increase in the uninsured rate.
  • 2,400,600 Coloradans Have A Pre-existing Condition, including 300,500 Colorado children, 1,180,000 Colorado women, and 550,000 Coloradans between ages 55 and 64. 
  • 453,400 Coloradans Enrolled Through Medicaid Expansion Could Lose Coverage. Seventeen million people have coverage through the expanded Medicaid program, including 453,400 in Colorado. 
  • Key Support For Rural Hospitals Would Disappear, leaving Colorado hospitals with $1 billion more in uncompensated care. 
  • 56,531 Colorado Seniors Could Have To Pay More For Prescription Drugs. If the Trump-GOP lawsuit is successful, seniors could have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare “donut” hole would be 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 CMS report. In Colorado, 56,531 seniors each saved an average of $1,081.
  • Reinstate Lifetime And Annual Limits On 1,902,000 Privately Insured Coloradans. Repealing the Affordable Care Act means insurance companies would be able to impose annual and lifetime limits on coverage for those insured through their employer or on the individual market.

Gardner Has Voted To Slash Medicare and Medicaid

  • 2017: Gardner Voted To Cut Medicare By $473 Billion. Gardner voted for the FY 2018 budget resolution, which included $473 billion in cuts to Medicare over 10 years. [H Con Res 71, Vote #245, 10/19/17; Vox, 10/26/17
  • 2017: Gardner Voted To Slash $1.3 Trillion From Medicaid. Gardner voted for the FY 2018 budget resolution, which cut funding for non-Medicare health programs, most notably Medicaid, by 1.3 trillion, a 20 percent cut over the course of 10 years, increasing to a 29.3 percent cut by 2027. [H Con Res 71, Vote #245, 10/19/17; Vox, 10/26/17

We Couldn’t Agree More, Senator Schumer

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer made clear that on drug pricing reform “our first goal is [the house bill]. Period.”

The chart below demonstrates why Senator Schumer is right: H.R. 3 is the only bill that truly reduces costs for both patients and taxpayers by giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower prices and is the only meaningful way to put an end to the power of the big drug companies. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans, including 85 percent of Republicans, support Medicare negotiation.

Trump Campaigning in Arizona Tonight with Unelected Senator McSally Who Said She Got Her “A** Kicked” Because of Her Support for His Disastrous Health Care Repeal Agenda

Washington, DC — Tonight, President Trump is holding a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona with Senator Martha McSally where he will implore Arizonans to elect the unelected Senator they have already rejected at the polls. President Trump and Senator McSally have something else in common: they both support disastrous health care repeal efforts that would end protections for pre-existing conditions and take coverage away from millions of Americans. In response to tonight’s rally, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement: 

“President Trump has no better ally in his quest to repeal and sabotage health care than Martha McSally, who has spent years on the front lines of taking away protections for pre-existing conditions. In the House, Martha McSally led the charge in President Trump’s war on health care, imploring her colleagues to ‘Get this f***ing thing done’ and support the GOP’s disastrous repeal bill which would have kicked millions of Americans off of their coverage and gutted protections for people with pre-existing conditions. After being appointed to the Senate, McSally continues to give cover to President Trump as he wages his war to destroy Americans’ health care in the courts while refusing to support common sense action to lower prescription drug costs like giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices, the most effective way to do so. Arizonans already rejected Martha McSally for the Senate because of her relentless war on health care, and when they have another chance in November, they will reject her again.”

BACKGROUND:

2017: Martha McSally Voted For AHCA. McSally voted for passage of the American Health Care Act. [HR 1628, Roll Call Vote #256, 5/4/17

  • McSally Encouraged Her GOP Colleagues To “Get This F–king Thing Done” And Repeal The ACA. “Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his GOP leadership team held what amounted to a pep rally for rank-and-file members in the Capitol basement Thursday morning as they predicted victory in their push to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Leaders played the ‘Rocky’ theme song as lawmakers walked into the meeting. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) put an image of George S. Patton on the screen and read inspirational quotes from the general. ‘Let’s get this f–king thing done!’ Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) told her colleagues, according to sources in the room.” [The Hill, 5/4/17

What Did AHCA Mean for Arizona? 

  • In 2026, 465,200 Arizonans would lose coverage under this bill. 
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the American Health Care Act would have raised premiums 20 percent in 2018.
  • The negative economic impact of the American Health Care Act would cause 60,714 Arizonans to lose their jobs by 2022.

2018: Martha McSally Said She Was “Getting My Ass Kicked” For Voting To Repeal The Affordable Care Act. “McSally was asked if she would vote again to repeal the health-care law on conservative commentator Sean Hannity’s radio show. ‘Well, Sean, I did vote to repeal and replace Obamacare on that House bill — I’m getting my ass kicked for it right now because it’s being misconstrued by the Democrats,’ she said. ‘They’re trying to, you know, invoke fear in people who have family members or loved ones with pre-existing conditions.’” [Arizona Republic, 10/29/18

Protect Our Care to Mark 10 Year Anniversary of the Passage of the Affordable Care Act With a Battleground State Bus Tour and Events Nationwide

POC’s March Bus Tour and 10 Days of Action Will Launch Ahead of the 10 Year Anniversary of the Passage of the ACA on March 23; Groundswell of Activity Will Also Include New Ads, Polling and Research 

Washington, D.C. — Ahead of the 10 year anniversary passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on March 23, Protect Our Care is announcing 10 days of action around the landmark anniversary including a multi state bus tour in key 2020 battleground states. Protect Our Care’s bus tour, corresponding days of action as well as new ads, polling and research will highlight the positive impact that the ACA has had on the lives of millions of Americans while bringing attention to the existential threat to Americans’ health care posed by the Trump administration and Republicans’ ongoing attacks on the law that puts the coverage of 20 million Americans at risk.  

Protect Our Care’s bus tour will kick off on March 15 in Minnesota and make stops in the key 2020 battleground states of Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Protect Our Care’s bus tour will include members of Congress, state and local lawmakers, health care advocates, doctors and patients who will speak about how the ACA has made a difference in the lives of those in their communities and how Republicans’ relentless war on health care, including their ongoing lawsuit to overturn the ACA, threatens their health care. 

Protect Our Care will also be working with partner organizations and advocates to lead 10 days of action across the country heading up to the anniversary to highlight the specific ways the Affordable Care Act has helped communities and make clear what’s at stake because of the Trump administration’s sabotage agenda and their effort to overturn the law in the courts. 

“There is no question that the Affordable Care Act has been a positive force in the lives of millions of Americans over the last 10 years who depend on the ACA for health insurance and critical protections like those for pre-existing conditions,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “Over the ten days surrounding this landmark anniversary, Protect Our Care will travel the country and remind Americans how the ACA has improved and saved the lives of millions while making clear that the relentless and ongoing attacks on the law from President Trump and Republicans pose an existential threat to Americans’ health care. While the president doubles down on his efforts to repeal our health care and released a budget with over $1 trillion in devastating cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, Democrats have made clear they are the party that will protect, improve and expand health care for all Americans.” 

The Protect Our Care ACA Anniversary Bus Tour is making stops in: 

St. Paul, MN on Sunday, March 15 

Des Moines, IA on Monday, March 16

Cedar Rapids, IA on Monday, March 16

La Crosse, WI on Tuesday, March 17

Madison, WI on Tuesday, March 17

Lansing, MI on Wednesday, March 18

Detroit, MI on Wednesday, March 18

Wilkes-Barre, PA on Thursday, March 19

Allentown, PA on Friday, March 20

Philadelphia, PA on Friday, March 20 

Washington, DC on Monday, March 23

Charlotte, NC on Wednesday, March 25

Raleigh, NC on Wednesday, March 25

California’s Open Enrollment Surge a Stark Reminder of the ACA’s Continued Success Despite Trump Administration’s Sabotage

Washington, DC — Today, California reported a surge in new enrollees in their state exchange. A 41 percent increase in new enrollees lead to an overall enrollment of 1.5 million people. According to reporting in Politico, state officials “attributed the surge in new enrollments to additional state insurance subsidies, California’s restoration of the individual mandate and a robust marketing campaign.” In response to the successful open enrollment in California, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement: 

“California’s enrollment numbers are a shining example of what happens when you actually promote the Affordable Care Act. Imagine how many more people would have coverage across the country if the Trump administration didn’t actively sabotage the law.” 

Background:

Health Care Sabotage Tracker 

Protect Our Care, Members of Congress Using February Recess to Address the High Cost of Prescription Drugs

As members of Congress return to their districts for the February recess this week, Protect Our Care is taking the opportunity to show Americans that Democrats remain committed to lowering the cost of prescription drugs. This week, Protect Our Care will host a groundswell of activity, including press conferences, town halls and roundtable discussions with members of Congress and health care advocates across the country to highlight the work Democrats have championed to lower drug prices for Americans. While Congress passed House Democrats’ landmark bill, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) last year, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans refuse to take up the bill or any legislation related to lowering the cost of prescription drugs that includes giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower prices – a policy that is the most effective way to lower drug prices for Americans.

For additional information about individual events, please reach out to [email protected]

Here’s a look at some of the events Protect Our Care has planned over the Congressional recess:

February 18, 2020

IA: Press Conference with Progress Iowa, Indivisible Iowa and Iowa Citizen Action Network outside Sen. Ernst’s Office in Cedar Rapids, IA at 12PM CT

MN: Roundtable with Sen. Tina Smith, patients and providers in Minneapolis, MN at 10AM CT

February 19, 2020

NH: Roundtable with Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-01) in Rye, NH

February 20, 2020

CO: Health Care Day of Action with Colorado Consumer Health Initiative in Denver, CO at 8AM CT

NC: Press Call with North Carolina Health Care Advocates at 11AM ET

NV: Press Conference with Rep. Steven Horsford (NV-04) 

PA: Press Conference with Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08) in Dunmore, PA

February 21, 2020

ME: Press Conference at State Capitol in Augusta, ME

February 23, 2020

AZ: Health Care Town Hall with Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) and Honest Arizona

February 25, 2020

WI: Press Conference with Citizen Action 

Appeals Court Reaffirms Decision to Strike Down the Trump Administration’s Heartless and Wholly Ineffective Medicaid Work Requirements

Washington, DC — Today, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld Judge James Boasberg’s decision in Gresham v. Azar striking down the Trump administration’s “arbitrary and capricious” Medicaid work requirements. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement: 

“Again and again the courts have ruled against the Trump administration’s burdensome paperwork requirements that are meant to boot people off the Medicaid rolls, but that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to push the policy, as they did earlier this week in their budget proposal. After today’s decision, it’s clearer than ever that the Trump administration and their Republican allies across the country should drop their relentless war on Medicaid and American health care once and for all.”

Trump’s Health Care Sabotage Left The U.S. Unprepared For Coronavirus

Washington, DC — Secretary Alex Azar, who is set to testify on President Trump’s budget before the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow, penned an op-ed with Secretary Mike Pompeo in USA TODAY attempting to build a positive narrative around the administration’s inadequate response to the coronavirus. In response to Secretary Azar’s op-ed and in anticipation of his testimony tomorrow, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement: 

“After three years of decimating our pandemic response capabilities, and finding themselves unprepared for the coronavirus on U.S. shores, the Trump administration is now doing the one thing they do well: crafting a false narrative.”

BACKGROUND

The Trump administration’s sabotage of health care does not stop at increasing costs and reducing coverage. It also includes failing to adequately protect Americans from infectious disease outbreaks. From budget cuts to leaving key positions unfilled to making it harder for people to access health care, the administration has worked the last three years to undermine and dismantle our pandemic response apparatus, leaving Americans more vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak

Trump Once Again Sought Cuts To Key Programs For Global Disease Response In His 2021 Budget. In his 2021 budget, Trump proposed steep cuts to the two agencies in charge of the coronavirus response, seeking to reduce NIH funding by $3.7 billion and CDC funding by $1.29 billion. He previously proposed cutting global health funding in his 2020 budget from more than $10 billion to $8 billion, its lowest level since 2008. Per Foreign Policy, other Trump-backed efforts included “reducing $15 billion in national health spending and cutting the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS.”  

Trump Dismantled The NSC’s Entire Global Health Security Unit And Failed To Fill Other Key Public Health Vacancies, Leaving The Country “Ill-Prepared” For A Global Pandemic. In 2018, the Trump administration dismantled the entire global health security unit at the National Security Council, reassigning its leader, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, a long-time public health official who had served under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Additionally, Tom Bossert, another key official for infectious disease preparedness and biodefense strategy, left that same year. No one has since filled these positions. Moreover, Trump has pursued cuts to the global health section of the CDC so severe that the number of countries it was working in decreased from 49 to 10. In 2017, the Washington Post reported that Trump had “failed to fill crucial public health positions across the government, leaving the nation ill-prepared” for a global pandemic.”  

Trump’s Recent Proposal To Block Grant Medicaid Threatens The Ability to Respond to Outbreaks. Under the Trump administration’s proposed block grant, federal funding would no longer necessarily increase in response to a public health emergency. This could lead to people losing coverage and access to care, undermining prevention and treatment of diseases nationwide. 

Trump’s Texas Lawsuit And Other Efforts To Repeal The ACA Would Cut Key Funding From The CDC. GOP repeal bills would have eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. In 2017, the Washington Post reported that this fund “provides almost $1 billion annually to CDC, now about 12 percent of CDC’s budget. It includes prevention of bioterrorism and disease outbreaks, as well as money to provide immunizations and heart-disease screenings.” The Trump administration is currently supporting a lawsuit that could repeal the ACA in its entirety, and there is no plan to maintain this funding if the courts overturn the health care law. 

Trump Is Spreading Misinformation About The Outbreak. On January 30, 2020, Trump tweeted: “Working closely with China and others on Coronavirus outbreak. Only 5 people in U.S., all in good recovery.” But as Time noted, “a sixth case of the virus had already been confirmed, and public health experts said it was not yet clear that those infected were ‘all in good recovery.”’ A few days later, without evidence, Trump claimed “we’ve pretty much shut it down.”  

HEADLINE TIMELINE

2017

Global Biodefense: “Pandemics, Personnel, And Politics: How The Trump Administration Is Leaving Us Vulnerable To The Next Outbreak” 

Washington Post: “The Trump Administration Is Ill-prepared For A Global Pandemic” 

2018

Washington Post“Top White House Official In Charge Of Pandemic Response Exits Abruptly” 

The Atlantic:  “Ebola Returns Just As The White House Loses Its Top Biodefense Expert” 

2019

New York Times: “Scientists Were Hunting for the Next Ebola. Now the U.S. Has Cut Off Their Funding.”

Vox: “A Crucial Federal Program Tracking Dangerous Diseases Is Shutting Down”

Mother Jones: As Ebola Deaths Mount in Africa, Trump Is Screwing Up the Response

USA Today: “Trump tweeted heartlessly about Ebola in 2014. He’s ill-equipped to handle 2019 outbreak.”

2020

Foreign Policy“Trump Has Sabotaged America’s Coronavirus Response” 

Stat: “The Coronavirus Gives Trump His Biggest Outbreak Emergency Yet — And Experts Are Worried”

The Guardian: “Us Underprepared For Coronavirus Due To Trump Cuts, Say Health Experts”

Time: “Wuhan Coronavirus Could Test The Trump Administration’s Ability To Respond To A Crisis. Experts Are Worried” 

The Atlantic“Coronavirus Is Coming—and Trump Isn’t Ready” 

Nbc Opinion: “Coronavirus Threat Needs A National Emergency Response. Trump’s Putting Ours At Risk.”

Five Questions Secretary Azar Needs to Answer During His Senate Finance Testimony

Tomorrow, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar will testify before the Senate Finance Committee on President Trump’s budget, which slashes over $1 trillion from vital health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid and leaves vulnerable populations at further risk. So far, the Trump administration has failed to explain why they are determined to cut these programs, so ahead of Secretary Azar’s testimony we have several questions he needs to answer: 

1. The president’s budget lists $844 billion worth of cuts to health care expenditures attributed to the “president’s health care vision” while giving no details. What specifically did you cut and why did you hide it from the American people?

  • The New York Times: Trump’s Budget “Leaves To The Imagination” Just What His Health Care Vision Is, But The Cuts “Are Not Consistent With Modest Tweaks.” The New York Times reported that “while the budget failed to detail an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, it did include a very specific savings target that would entail significant changes: $844 billion in cuts over a decade to execute what the budget called the ‘president’s health care vision’…Mr. Trump is running for re-election this year, so his budget can be read as a policy blueprint for his second term if he wins. The budget leaves to the imagination just what that vision is…But the deep cuts enshrined in the budget’s numbers are not consistent with modest tweaks.”

2. The president claims to have “saved” protections for pre-existing conditions when in fact your administration has repeatedly put these protections at risk. Can you point to one instance where the administration has taken such a step?

  • Trump Has Repeatedly Claimed That He Will Protect People With Pre-existing Conditions Despite Efforts To Dismantle The Affordable Care Act. He did so last week in the State of the Union. By the next day, independent analysts and fact-checkers pointed out that that statement is somewhere between misleading and a lie. In reality, Trump has tried repeatedly to strip protections from 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions through failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress and now through his ongoing federal lawsuit Trump himself claimed would “terminate” the Affordable Care Act and its consumer protections.
  • The Trump Administration Has Expanded Access To Short-Term Junk Plans, Which Are Not Required To Cover People With Pre-existing Conditions. Kaiser Health News recently rated Trump’s claim that these plans are “less expensive and better” as mostly false: “given the limitations of short-term plans, they’re not better than ACA plans for most people, because policyholders could face potentially significant financial risk — or find their treatment needs are not covered. They’re definitely not better for people who qualify for federal subsidies to buy ACA insurance, especially those at the lower end of that income range, where the subsidies are larger.

3. How many Medicaid recipients will lose coverage if the administration successfully implements hundreds of billions in cuts, transitions state funding to “block grants,” and pushes onerous paperwork requirements intended to boot people off the rolls?

  • Block Grants Are Designed To Throw People Off Medicaid. Experts and leading patient groups have said the Trump administration’s Medicaid block grant guidance encourages states to cut enrollment and reduce benefits, threatening access to care for patients. AARP said that block grants “could put at risk the health coverage for millions of vulnerable Americans.”
  • Medicaid Work Requirements Cost More And Cover Less.  After Arkansas imposed the nation’s first so-called work requirements program, more than 18,000 residents lost Medicaid coverage. While these state efforts have been blocked by a federal judge several times, the Trump administration keeps fighting to impose work reporting requirements in Medicaid, appealing federal court rulings that blocked such requirements because they are illegal. 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.

4. Does the administration have a plan for the 20 million people who will lose their insurance if the lawsuit you’re backing to overturn the Affordable Care Act is successful? Why has the president been falsely claiming to have an alternative “plan” for months but failed to produce one? 

  • Trump Is All-In On The Texas Lawsuit, Threatening Health Care For Millions. After failing to repeal the health care law, Trump took his war on America’s health care to a new level and went to court seeking to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act–including protections for pre-existing conditions. If President Trump and Republicans have their way, 20 million Americans will lose their insurance coverage, 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will be stripped of their protections, and costs will go up for millions.

5. Why did President Trump pull his support on giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices, and did you advise him to do so?

  • 9 In 10 Americans Support Medicare Negotiation. Polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that about 9 in 10 Americans (88 percent) support allowing the federal government to negotiate prices for Medicare beneficiaries, including 92 percent of Democrats, 90 percent of independents, and 85 percent of Republicans.
  • Trump Continues To Stand With Big Pharma As Drug Prices Have Soared. Donald Trump promised that he would lower drug costs, but instead he gave drug companies billions in tax breaks. The year after the tax bill passed, the largest drug companies made $50 billion in profits and subsequently used their savings to invest billions more in stock buybacks for their shareholders. Meanwhile, more than 3,400 drugs saw price increases in the first half of 2019 alone. Trump has rejected common sense reforms, like giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower prices.