Monthly Archives

May 2020

President Trump’s Trip to Michigan? He Should Have Stayed Home

Yesterday, President Trump visited a Ford manufacturing plant to try to salvage his support from Michigan voters. Instead, by refusing to wear a mask, Trump once again showed Michiganders and people across the country he is not taking the pandemic that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans seriously. 

Before his visit, Protect Our Care held a press call to discuss President Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis in Michigan and how his failures have placed Michiganders’ health and safety at risk ahead of his visit to the state. Protect Our Care also unveiled a new survey conducted with Public Policy Polling in Michigan that finds voters in Michigan disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, trust Governor Whitmer far more, oppose relaxing social distancing and believe Trump deserves blame for the rising death toll and job loss as a result of his botched response. 

Here is what Michiganders saw and read about Trump’s visit:

MLive: Trump Visits Michigan Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Historic Flooding And Economic Downturn. [MLive, 5/21/20

Detroit Free Press: Michigan Health Care Workers: Trump Wants Economy To Reopen — But We’re Not Ready. [Detroit Free Press, 5/21/20

Dearborn Press & Guide: Hammoud, Protect Our Care Blast Trump On Covid-19 Policy Ahead Of Visit To Michigan. [Dearborn Press & Guide, 5/21/20

Detroit Free Press: Nessel Calls Trump ‘Petulant Child,’ Says He Would Not Be Welcomed Back To Michigan. [Detroit Free Press, 5/21/20

Washington Post: Trump Skips A Mask In Public During Tour Of Michigan Auto Plant That Requires Them. [Washington Post, 5/21/20]

Reuters: Trump Visits Ford Plant In Politically Crucial Michigan, Leaves Mask Off For Cameras. [Reuters, 5/21/20

Associated Press: Pandemic Politics: Maskless Trump Tours Michigan Ford Plant. [Associated Press, 5/22/20

CNN: Michigan AG: Trump Was ‘Incredibly Disrespectful’ To Our State. [CNN, 5/21/20

Washington Post: Ahead Of President’s Visit, Michigan Town Battles Racial Disparities In Coronavirus Deaths. [Washington Post, 5/20/20

U.S. News & World Report: Trump Trails Biden in New Michigan Poll. [U.S. News & World Report, 5/21/20

Senators Shaheen, Smith Alongside Committee Leaders Senators Wyden, Murray Unveil Proposal in Response to Coronavirus Crisis to Improve and Expand Health Coverage and Combat Trump’s Sabotage

Washington, DC — Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Tina Smith (D-MN) alongside Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) unveiled a new proposal to improve and expand access to health care for Americans in response to the coronavirus crisis. Their proposal includes much needed action to expand premium tax credits and financial assistance for families impacted by the crisis, open a special enrollment period, restore funding for outreach, further expand Medicaid, strengthen protections for pre-existing conditions and crack down on junk insurance plans that don’t cover these protections. In response to their proposal, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“There has never been a more important time to ensure Americans have access to quality and affordable health care and the proposal unveiled by Senators Shaheen and Smith along with Senators Wyden and Murray makes it clear Senate Democrats understand those critical health care needs. Their plan is in stark contrast to the ongoing efforts by President Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress to rip health care away from 20 million Americans and protections for 135 million with pre-existing conditions. Incentivizing holdout states to expand Medicaid, opening a special enrollment period for the uninsured, and making health insurance more affordable are common sense solutions to helping Americans get quality, affordable care. President Trump and Republicans in Congress need to stop pushing junk insurance plans that don’t cover pre-existing conditions and drop their Texas lawsuit to terminate the ACA that would rip coverage away from 20 million Americans in the middle of the crisis.” 

Polling: Trump’s Approval on Health Care Sinks to Record Low as Americans Reject His Leadership and Coronavirus Death Toll Nears 100K

Trump’s Approval On Health Care Has Fallen 15 Points Since March 23 

New polling from Navigator Research today confirms that Americans are rejecting Trump’s leadership in record numbers when it comes to health care during the coronavirus crisis. Millions of Americans have lost their health care since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, the president plows forward with his lawsuit that would terminate the ACA and strip coverage from 20 million more Americans. As we head into a Memorial Day Weekend where we are nearing 100,000 deaths, it’s evident that Americans are seeing through Trump’s empty rhetoric which has served as a thin veil for his disastrous response effort that has gotten us to this point. 

From Navigator Research

Protect Our Care and Michigan Medical Experts Call Out President Trump’s Disastrous Handling of Coronavirus Crisis and Discuss New Polling Ahead of His Visit to Michigan

View the Survey Results

Washington, DC — On a press call today, Protect Our Care and Public Policy Polling along with Michigan State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn, MI) and Dr. Rob Davidson discussed President Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis in Michigan and how his failures have placed Michiganders’ health and safety at risk ahead of his visit to the state. Protect Our Care also unveil a new survey conducted with Public Policy Polling in Michigan that finds voters in Michigan disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, trust Governor Whitmer far more, oppose relaxing social distancing and believe Trump deserves blame for the rising death toll and job loss as a result of his botched response. 

Call Audio Available Here

Key survey findings: 

  • Governor Whitmer’s net approval rating for her handling of the virus is 26 points better than Trump’s. Whitmer has a +17 approval for it at 55/38, while Trump gets a -9 rating with only 42% approving and 51% disapproving of the job he’s doing handling the virus.
  • On the head to head question of who voters trust more to protect Michigan from the coronavirus, Whitmer beats out Trump 55-37, including a 56-32 spread with independents.
  • By a 10-point margin, voters do not think President Trump is doing enough to protect America from the coronavirus – 42% of voters think he’s doing enough, while 52% do not.
  • Only 26% of voters think social distancing measures should be relaxed, with 66% believing that the current policies are correct, including 68% of independent voters.
  • Voters say they would choose safety over speed when it comes to reopening the economy. When asked to choose between reopening the economy more quickly, or more safely, just 30% say they would choose to reopen the economy more quickly, while 65% say they would choose to reopen the economy more safely, including 66% of independent voters. 
  • 60% of voters say that President Trump and his administration deserve a great deal or at least some responsibility for both the number of Americans who have died and the number of jobs lost due to the coronavirus. 
  • Trump’s overall approval rating in the state is 44/51, and he trails Joe Biden 51-45 in a head to head match up. 

“During this crisis, the real leadership has been coming from Governor Gretchen Whitmer. It’s evident Trump is much more concerned with campaigning than ensuring Americans are protected and have the resources they need to get through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud. “Despite being in the middle of a global pandemic, he continues to do everything possible to undermine the Affordable Care Act and limit access to the quality, affordable health care it provides.”

“Doctors don’t need polls to tell us what we know to be true: President Trump has failed all of us,” said Dr. Rob Davidson. “President Trump called health care workers warriors running into death like soldiers running into bullets on the battlefield. Well, we don’t want to be warriors battling against this virus, and if he thinks we are his warriors, he needs to give us the armor we need to make sure we are not unnecessarily dying in his war. Give us the PPE we need, give us the tests we need so we can effectively manage this virus and get America open safely again.”

“Poll after poll shows that voters in Michigan and across the country have lost trust in Donald Trump’s ability to lead them through this crisis,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “Americans want clear and consistent leadership to keep them safe, but this president continues to put people in danger by downplaying the need for testing, ignoring the advice of experts and trying to rip health care from millions of Americans when they need it most. Americans overwhelmingly support continuing social distancing and they don’t trust his efforts to rush the reopening of the economy without proper safety measures in place. It’s no wonder voters in Michigan reject Trump’s leadership and blame the rising death toll and unemployment on his systematic failure to get America through this crisis.” 

“The results of the poll clearly show that Michigan voters are much more on board with Governor Whitmer’s approach to the virus than Donald Trump’s,” said Jim Williams with Public Policy Polling. “As a consequence, we see Joe Biden leading Donald Trump in Michigan.”

Trump Goes After Pre-Existing Conditions Again By Doubling Down on Junk Insurance Plans in the Debate on the Next Coronavirus Relief Bill

Washington, DC Yesterday, the White House sent an email reaffirming their support for junk insurance plans by opposing a provision in the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act that clamps down on the promotion of these deceitful plans that don’t cover protections for pre-existing conditions. This is yet another effort by President Trump, including his lawsuit to terminate the ACA, to rip protections from 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. His support for these plans is even more egregious in the face of the coronavirus pandemic that has caused millions of Americans to lose their health care. These newly uninsured families could be duped into buying junk plans only to end up paying crippling costs for treatment if they catch the virus. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“It’s shameful that the White House is standing by their promotion of junk insurance plans that don’t protect people with pre-existing conditions at a time when people’s health and safety is so important. The president’s ongoing efforts to rip protections away from the 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and his refusal to allow the uninsured to use the Affordable Care Act to purchase affordable health insurance when they need it the most, shows his complete disregard for Americans’ health during this crisis. Everyone who contracts the coronavirus could now have a pre-existing condition and the Trump administration wants them to be at the mercy of insurance companies who could refuse to pay for their future care. If this president was serious about protecting Americans during this crisis, he wouldn’t be promoting these disastrous junk insurance plans that don’t fully protect people with pre-existing conditions.”

BACKGROUND:

On May 14, The White House Sent An Email Attacking The HEROES Act Provision Banning The Promotion Of Junk Plans That Do Not Cover Pre-Existing Conditions. “A BAN on information about low-cost health insurance. That’s right—House Democrats want to forbid the government from sharing any information with you about lower-cost health options such as association plans or short-term plans. Even as families try to cope with job and wage losses, Speaker Pelosi doesn’t want them to learn about options that are up to 60 percent cheaper than Obamacare.” [White House Email, 5/14/20] 

THIS WEEK: Protect Our Care Hosts Press Calls with Leader Schumer, Democratic AGs and Elected Officials Nationwide to Discuss Amicus Briefs Filed Against Trump-Republican Lawsuit to Terminate Health Care

Lawsuit Decried as “Cruel, Economically Stupid and Dangerous”

This week, Protect Our Care hosted press calls and digital events across the country with elected officials to bring attention to the Trump-Republican lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and discuss the briefs from Senate Democrats and other groups filed Wednesday in the Supreme Court. During press events with attorneys general and elected officials in Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, Democratic leaders described the damage of this lawsuit which if successful would rip health care from 20 million Americans and throw the health care system into complete chaos as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. 

Protect Our Care also hosted a national press call Wednesday with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School Andy Pincus, who made clear the devastation that would ensue if health care is ripped away from 20 million Americans as well as protections for 135 million with pre-existing conditions at a time when ensuring people’s health has never been more important.

POC also hosted a call on Tuesday with Senator Chris Murphy and Little Lobbyists to discuss the real-life human impacts of the lawsuit.

A look at Protect Our Care’s activity this week: 

NATIONAL PRESS CALLS

Wednesday, May 13 – Press Call with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), Former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School Andy Pincus 

“Now more than ever, Americans need the Affordable Care Act. And yet, in the middle of this public health and economic emergency, the Trump administration is dedicating time and resources to eliminating health care coverage and pre-existing condition protections for millions of Americans,” said Leader Chuck Schumer. “But Senate Democrats won’t give up this fight. We are calling on the highest court of the land to affirm the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and protect Americans’ care. The facts and the law are indisputably on our side.”

“Taking away health care from millions of Americans in the midst of a pandemic is cruel, economically stupid and dangerous,” said former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Despite this lawsuit — and innumerable other efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act — the ACA is working to make health care more widely accessible and affordable. We should be working to strengthen it, not undermine it.”

“The nearly three dozen amicus briefs that will be filed today, together with the briefs filed last week by the House of Representatives and California and the other intervening states, demonstrate that there simply are no credible legal grounds for the argument by Texas and the Trump administration,” said Andy Pincus, Partner at Mayer Brown and Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. “These briefs also make clear the huge stakes of this case: everyone with a role in the health care system – from patient groups to health care providers to hospitals – is filing in support of the ACA. They all recognize the catastrophic consequences that would result from invalidating the ACA—and especially from doing so while the nation is fighting a pandemic.”

Listen to the call here.

Tuesday, May 12 – Press Call with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)

“Because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, we are approaching a 20% unemployment rate, meaning more and more Americans are finding themselves reliant on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid in order to get themselves and their family insurance,” said Senator Chris Murphy. “And so, the number of people who are now at risk of losing their health insurance, if President Trump lawsuit is successful, is not just 20 million. It might be 25 million, or 30 million, or 35 million. The stakes are just hard to get your head wrapped around. So it makes no sense that this administration is pursuing a repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. But it makes even less sense that the administration is continuing to pursue this dangerous repeal effort in the middle of a pandemic.”

Listen to the call here.

STATE PRESS CALLS 

COLORADO

Monday, May 11 – Digital Roundtable with State Rep. Yadira Caraveo, Health Care Providers and Advocates

“I got to see what life was like before the ACA and how life has improved for my patients since the passing of the ACA,” said State Representative and pediatrician Yadira Caraveo. “Before the ACA was passed, we worried about labeling patients as having pre-existing conditions. Pediatric patients don’t have too many chronic diseases, but asthma is one of them. We used to get very creative when it came to wording for kids with wheezing or coughs, to try not to say asthma on their charts, because we knew that would affect them all the way down the line in getting insurance. If people lose access to preventive and primary care due to the elimination of the ACA… then we stand to see an increase in all sorts of illnesses down the line.”

Watch the roundtable here.

MAINE

Wednesday, May 13 – Bangor Daily News Op-Ed by State Rep. Thom Hartnett

“The Trump administration is making a tired, partisan, and nearly decade-long argument that, in the middle of a national crisis, would threaten the lives of even more innocent people. Republicans should drop this lawsuit and focus on protecting Mainers and all Americans when they need it the most,” said State Rep. Thom Hartnett. “Will COVID-19 be the newest pre-existing condition to be excluded from health insurance protection? We need the ACA now more than ever. The Trump administration’s relentless pursuit to hobble it is shameful.”

Read the full Bangor Daily News op-ed here.

MICHIGAN

Monday, May 11 – Oakland Press Op-Ed by David Woodward, Chairman of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners

“Eliminating the ACA would devastate the lives of Michiganders, including 73,000 Michigan young adults and 527,600 children in Michigan who would lose access to health care,” said Chairman David Woodward. “This week’s activities mark the beginning of a critical phase in the fight to protect Americans as our nation continues to grapple with this current unprecedented public health disaster. Trump and his allies will make absurd arguments to justify ripping health care from 20 million throughout these proceedings, while the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic continues.”

Read the full Oakland Press op-ed here.

MINNESOTA

Wednesday, May 13 – Press Call with MN AG Keith Ellison and Former CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt

“The bottom line is that this lawsuit shows just how out of touch this administration is with the needs of Americans all over this country, regardless of geography or political persuasion,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. “At the end of the day, in a country as wealthy and endowed with expertise and health care infrastructure such as ours is, no one should be worried about going bankrupt because they got sick. Yet, that is exactly what the door will be opened to if we cannot protect the Affordable Care Act.” 

“If this lawsuit prevails, and the Affordable Care Act is eliminated, it would be a complete disaster. The fact is that 2.4 million Minnesotans could be discriminated against and no longer be able to get health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition,” said former CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt. “This will hurt the communities who need health care the most.”

Listen to the press call here.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Wednesday, May 13 – Digital Roundtable with Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02)

“It’s unconscionable that President Trump and Congressional Republicans continue fighting in court to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, even as we are in the midst of combating a once in a lifetime pandemic with COVID-19,” said Rep. Annie Kuster. “More than 52 million Americans and 200,000 Granite Staters live with pre-existing conditions here in New Hampshire and every single day they’re threatened by the attacks of this administration on the Affordable Care Act.” 

Watch the roundtable here.

WISCONSIN

Thursday, May 14 – Digital Press Conference with WI AG Josh Kaul 

“This is a time when we need to make sure that if people need access to healthcare they are able to get it,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Kaul. “We need to make sure we are protecting people’s financial security. The Affordable Care Act does both of those things. Attacking [the law] in any case is a mistake, but attacking it in the middle of a pandemic is just horrible policy. We need to do what we can to keep the Affordable Care Act in place and that’s why we joined this amicus brief. I think it’s critical we keep these protections in place.”

Watch the press conference here.

Pennsylvania Seniors Bear the Brunt of Trump’s Disastrous Coronavirus Response

Washington, DC — Today, President Trump is touring a medical equipment distribution center in Allentown, Pennsylvania where he will undoubtedly lie about his own administration’s disastrous response effort, which has severely impacted senior populations in Pennsylvania and across the country. Trump’s failure to provide adequate testing and PPE for nursing homes has put America’s seniors, who were already at higher risk to the coronavirus, in even greater danger. To make matters worse, Trump’s war on health care has also been devastating to seniors, and they now face even greater risks as the country faces a once-in-a-lifetime health care crisis while the president seeks to strip health care from 20 million Americans. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“America’s senior populations and nursing homes have been devastated by the coronavirus crisis and bore the brunt of President Trump’s disastrous response that’s failed to keep them safe. President Trump’s actions to sabotage Americans’ health care including his lawsuit to overturn our health care law and desire to gut Medicaid and Medicare will have far reaching consequences for Pennsylvania’s seniors who rely on the law and on these programs especially during this crisis. If the president was serious about taking steps to helping seniors through this crisis he would stop trying to tear apart our health care system and instead aggressively ramp up testing and production of protective equipment so that seniors in Pennsylvania and across the country are able to protect themselves from this deadly virus.” 

BACKGROUND:

Seniors And Older Adults Face Higher Risks In The Coronavirus Pandemic

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the groups “at high-risk for severe illness from Covid-19” are people 65 years and older and individuals who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. 
  • More than 80,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, with nearly 80 percent of deaths among those over the age of 65. 
  • Nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country have experienced a surge in outbreaks, with about one third of U.S. deaths associated with these facilities. 
  • Coronavirus is also a threat to millions of seniors and older adults who live outside of institutions and may be exposed through work, family members, or caregivers. 
  • Roughly 47 million older adults nationwide are aging in place. More than seven million seniors, or 15 percent of the 65-and-older population residing outside of nursing homes, are considered medically frail. And 60 percent of this group have at least two chronic conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, which are serious risk factors for developing coronavirus complications. According to the Center for American Progress, nearly 32 million people age 55-64 have pre-existing conditions. 
  • Seniors residing in rural areas face additional risks. More than 7 million people age 60 and up reside in counties without intensive care beds. Additionally, 2.7 million in this group live in counties without any hospitals at all. Seniors, both those residing in nursing homes and at home, are facing additional challenges during this crisis, including isolation, food insecurity, and limited health care access. 

Trump’s Health Care Sabotage Agenda Particularly Is Harmful to Seniors

  • President Trump’s attacks on American health care have had devastating consequences for older adults. The Trump administration has worked tirelessly to undermine the ACA, Medicaid, and Medicare even as millions of seniors and older adults rely on these programs for coverage. 
  • Trump has also broken his campaign promise to let Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices, despite overwhelming support from the American people.
  • Trump’s war on health care has only exacerbated the coronavirus crisis. Comprehensive and affordable coverage is essential to ensuring that individuals with coronavirus symptoms receive the lifesaving care they need.
  • Low-income individuals are especially at risk of being exposed to the virus, as they are often service workers deemed essential and are unable to practice social distancing, but they are less likely to be insured and therefore may delay necessary care. 
  • The Kaiser Family Foundation that 2 million uninsured patients could be hospitalized due to the virus, threatening to leave them with tens of thousands in medical bills. 

Seniors Stand To Lose If The ACA Is Overturned. If The ACA Is Struck Down In Court

  • People Over The Age of 50 Will Face A $4,000 “Age Tax.” Thanks to the Republican lawsuit, insurance companies can charge people over 50 more than younger people. The Affordable Care Act limited the amount older people could be charged to three times more than younger people. If insurers were to charge five times more, as was proposed in the Republican repeal bills, that would add an average “age tax” of $4,124 for a 60-year-old in the individual market, according to the AARP.
  • Seniors Will Have To Pay More For Prescription Drugs. Thanks to the Republican lawsuit, 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.
  • Seniors Will No Longer Be Guaranteed Free Preventive Services And Annual Check-Ups. 60 million people with Medicare have access to free preventive services because of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Seniors Could Once Again See Less Coordinated Care. Provisions in the ACA encouraged groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers to come together to provide coordinated high-quality care to the Medicare patients they serve. In fact, 8.9 million Medicare beneficiaries are now benefiting from higher quality, more coordinated care. 

Trump’s Coronavirus Response Has Made Pennsylvania Less Safe

  • The Trump Administration Failed To Secure Testing. After the Trump administration decided not to use tests adopted by the World Health Organization, the CDC experienced errors and delays with their own tests. The lack of tests meant public health officials could not use surveillance testing to monitor the virus’ spread. On March 30, 2020, Trump claimed that he had not “heard about testing being a problem” in weeks, despite multiple state and local officials ringing the alarm about a lack of testing on a daily basis. 
  • Trump Refused To Authorize The Defense Production Act Until It Was Too Late. Trump waited until hospitals were already experiencing severe shortages of life-saving equipment to invoke the Defense Production Act. Had Trump acted two months ago, experts and Ford’s own timeline agree that critical supplies would already be in production. Because Trump delayed acting, necessary equipment is unlikely before June. 
  • Trump Cut Key Positions To Help Pandemic Prevention Efforts. 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. 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 tried to cut the global health section of the CDC, laying off staff and closing 80% of epidemic prevention activities that were designed to combat public health crises like this one. Trump also eliminated a key CDC position focused on detecting disease outbreaks in China and cut the staff at the Beijing office of the CDC by two thirds.
  • Trump Has Repeatedly Ignored Experts And Spread Misinformation About The Outbreak. Dating back to January, Trump ignored warnings about the crisis and sought to downplay the crisis. He falsely claimed the virus would disappear by April, and repeatedly said the USA was in “very good shape” in hopes of calming the markets. In February, Donald Trump cut HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s budget request to buy respirator masks and other supplies for the national stockpile by 75 percent. Now a mask shortage is forcing health care workers in Pennsylvania to go without critical protective equipment.
  • Trump’s Order For All Nursing Home Residents And Staff To Be Tested Is Too Little, Too Late. In May, the Trump administration finally ordered that all nursing home residents and staff be tested for coronavirus, however the order remains toothless as the federal government has declined to provide resources or funding for these critical tests. Advocates and industry executives say that in many states, universal testing isn’t feasible without the federal government providing the money or means to do it.

 

 

TOMORROW: Trump Heads to Pennsylvania to Rewrite His Shameful Record of Failing to Prepare the Keystone State for the Coronavirus Crisis, But Pennsylvanians Aren’t Buying It

Washington, DC — Tomorrow, President Trump will tour a medical equipment distribution center in Allentown, Pennsylvania in a blatant attempt to rewrite his disastrous response to the coronavirus. President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus response is already deeply unpopular with Pennsylvanians, who overwhelmingly trust their governor and local leaders more than the president to deal with the pandemic. Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement ahead of the president’s trip:

“From the start of this crisis, President Trump has failed to get local officials and medical professionals in Pennsylvania and across the country the equipment and resources they need to adequately fight this pandemic. However, long before the coronavirus came to our shores, Donald Trump’s sabotage of our health care system left us woefully unprepared. At a time when access to health care has never been more critical, President Trump supports the lawsuit to rip coverage from 20 million more Americans, including more than 850,000 Pennsylvanians, and throw the health care system into chaos as the country grapples with this crisis and as deaths and infections continue to rise. It’s no wonder that Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly trust their local leaders more than Trump when it comes to their health and safety during this crisis.”

BACKGROUND:

How Trump Is Making The Coronavirus Worse For Pennsylvanians 

President Trump has helped fuel the coronavirus crisis in Pennsylvania. Between downplaying the outbreak and failing to meet the needs of the health care system, Trump has failed Pennsylvanians and people across the country. Making matters worse, Trump failed to meet the state’s dire need for assistance. 

Where Pennsylvania Stands: 

Number Of Pennsylvania Cases Reported: 57,991
Number Of Pennsylvania Deaths: 3,806
Total Number Of People Tested In Pennsylvania: 295,980

Trump Aid Fell Short Of Pennsylvania Needs:

Governor Wolf Said Trump’s Disaster Relief Fell Short Of The State’s Need. “President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved a major disaster declaration for Pennsylvania that Gov. Tom Wolf said fell short of the full assistance he requested to help the state and its residents during the coronavirus pandemic.’We are grateful for federal funding that will support all levels of government as we work together to stop the spread, and support those who care for the ill,’ Wolf said in a statement, ‘but I remain unwavering in my call for the approval of the rest of my request, which will provide more direct support to our friends and neighbors who are facing financial difficulties that otherwise could be insurmountable.’” [Ellwood City Ledger, 3/31/20

  • Trump’s Approval Failed To Include Critical Assistance For Pennsylvanians. “Wolf said the declaration did not address his request for assistance through Individual Assistance programs, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Community Disaster Loans and Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program and Statewide Hazard Mitigation.”

Trump’s Coronavirus Response Has Made Pennsylvania Less Safe

The Trump Administration Failed To Secure Testing. After the Trump administration decided not to use tests adopted by the World Health Organization, the CDC experienced errors and delays with their own tests. The lack of tests meant public health officials could not use surveillance testing to monitor the virus’ spread. On March 30, 2020, Trump claimed that he had not “heard about testing being a problem” in weeks, despite multiple state and local officials ringing the alarm about a lack of testing on a daily basis. 

Trump Refused To Authorize The Defense Production Act Until It Was Too Late. Trump waited until hospitals were already experiencing severe shortages of life-saving equipment to invoke the Defense Production Act. Had Trump acted two months ago, experts and Ford’s own timeline agree that critical supplies would already be in production. Because Trump delayed acting, necessary equipment is unlikely before June. 

Trump Cut Key Positions To Help Pandemic Prevention Efforts. 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. 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 tried to cut the global health section of the CDC, laying off staff and closing 80% of epidemic prevention activities that were designed to combat public health crises like this one. Trump also eliminated a key CDC position focused on detecting disease outbreaks in China and cut the staff at the Beijing office of the CDC by two thirds. 

Trump Has Repeatedly Ignored Experts And Spread Misinformation About The Outbreak. Dating back to January, Trump ignored warnings about the crisis and sought to downplay the crisis. He falsely claimed the virus would disappear by April, and repeatedly said the USA was in “very good shape” in hopes of calming the markets. In February, Donald Trump cut HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s budget request to buy respirator masks and other supplies for the national stockpile by 75 percent. Now a mask shortage is forcing health care workers in Pennsylvania to go without critical protective equipment.

By Late March, It Became Clear Pennsylvania Was Facing An Unprecedented Health Crisis:

Testing Failures

Philadelphia Inquirer: Experts Say That Much Of The Coronavirus’ Spread “Is Due To Shortages That Have Forced Health Officials To Ration Testing.” “The coronavirus is taking ever deeper roots in the Philadelphia region and across the country, and much of that spread, experts say, is due to shortages that have forced health officials to ration testing. But the problems go deeper than a lack of test kits. Potentially infected patients are supposed to start the process of getting tested with their health-care provider, but many family physicians and urgent care clinics report not having the protective gear or the protocols needed to safely and correctly swab patients’ noses and throats, then ship the specimens to labs.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/13/20

Overwhelmed Hospitals

Gov. Tom Wolf Warned: “Our Hospitals Will Soon Be Overwhelmed.” “Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday the rising number of coronavirus cases poses a substantial challenge to Pennsylvania’s hospitals. If cases continue growing exponentially, Wolf said, ‘Our hospitals will soon be overwhelmed.’” [PennLive, 3/25/20

Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Secretary Of Health, Warned That “If We Do Not All Stay Home And Stay Safe, Then We Will See The Worst-Case Scenario.” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Tuesday continued social distancing is needed to ensure hospitals aren’t overwhelmed…Levine said, “If we do not all stay home and stay safe, then we will see the worst-case scenario in all of these models, including the potential overwhelming of our health care systems.” [Penn Live, 3/31/20] 

Supply Shortages

“The Biggest Concern In Pennsylvania This Week Is A Looming Shortage Of Life-Saving Supplies And Healthy Medical Workers Needed To Treat A Surge Of Coronavirus Patients.” [York Daily Record, 3/24/20

Pennsylvania Health Care Workers Said There’s A Shortage Of Personal Protective Equipment.The Pennsylvania Healthcare Association, which represents Donna and thousands of other health care workers around the state are demanding the federal government release masks and equipment from the national stockpile, produce new supplies, and make sure frontline workers have easy access to testing.” [CBS 21, 3/30/20]

Registered Nurse In Northeastern Pennsylvania Said That Workers At Her Nursing Home Do Not Have Surgical Gowns And Were Being Told To Reuse Paper Masks. “Donna, a registered nurse for more than 30 years, works at a nursing home in northeastern Pennsylvania. She says three coworkers recently tested positive for COVID-19. Donna also says workers don’t have surgical gowns and are being told to reuse paper masks for a week and keep them in paper bags when they’re not using them. She says in her three decades as a nurse, she never imagined she’d be facing a pandemic like the one we’re in now. ’It’s frightening. It’s a very scary situation. As frontline workers, we are fighting against an invisible enemy and yet so little is being done to protect us,’ Donna said.” [CBS 21, 3/30/20]

NEW AUDIO: Leader Schumer Blasts Senator John Cornyn for Shameless Hypocrisy on Health Care

Leader Schumer Responds to Senator Cornyn Suggesting People Sign Up for ACA Coverage, Despite Vocally Supporting Lawsuit to Overturn the Law 

On a press call with Protect Our Care this afternoon, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer blasted Republican Senator John Cornyn (TX) for the blatant hypocrisy he displayed when, during an interview this week, he encouraged people to sign up for ACA coverage despite voting repeatedly to repeal the ACA and failing to condemn the ongoing Texas lawsuit to overturn the law in court.

Senator Cornyn’s comments come as a new study out today revealed that roughly 27 million people have lost their health insurance due to the global pandemic. What’s particularly shameless about Cornyn’s remarks, is that he has propped up the ongoing lawsuit to repeal the ACA, which if successful, would likely prevent those who have lost their insurance from gaining access to coverage, on top of kicking an additional 20 million people off of their health care. Cornyn knows his stance on the ACA, and repeated actions to destroy the law, are deeply unpopular, but he isn’t fooling anyone by his new-found interest in people’s health care.

LISTEN: Leader Schumer calls out Senator Cornyn for health care hypocrisy

(7:44) Leader Schumer: “If you ever wanted to see the hypocrisy of the Republicans and how the coronavirus crisis has strengthened the need for health care, I wanted to give you a quote from John Cornyn, formerly the number two and still a member of the leadership team in the Republican Senate. He voted more than a dozen times to repeal the ACA. He’s one of the leaders in the Senate to dismantle it. Here’s what he said on Monday: ‘The good news’ – that’s his words – ‘is that people can sign up for President Barack Obama’s signature health care law if they’ve lost their jobs and need health insurance amid the coronavirus pandemic.’ Here’s his quote: ‘The good news is that if you lose your employer-provided coverage, which covers about a 180 million Americans, that is a significant life event, which makes you then eligible to sign up for the ACA’…As you know, it has a sliding scale of subsidies up to 400%…So that’s an option for people.’”

“Can you imagine? One of the leading people who is trying to dismantle health care now confronted with the crisis of corona, saying ‘here’s good news, we have ACA.’ What hypocrisy. But it also shows you where the public is. John Cornyn is running for re-election I imagine, you know, he knows that his efforts to repeal health care are not even popular in red, red Texas. And he has to say this. If you ever wanted evidence that corona has strengthened people’s desire for health care despite what this Trump administration is trying to do, there it is.”

Leader Schumer, Kathleen Sebelius and Protect Our Care Discuss Consequences of Trump-Republican Lawsuit to Overturn the ACA

Call Audio Available Here

Washington, DC — Today, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School Andy Pincus and Protect Our Care held a press call to discuss the briefs being filed in the Supreme Court by Senate Democrats and other groups opposing the Trump-Republican lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act. On the call, Senator Schumer, Secretary Sebelius and Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach described the consequences of the lawsuit, particularly in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. They also made clear the devastation that would ensue if health care is ripped away from 20 million Americans as well as protections for 135 million with pre-existing conditions at a time when ensuring people’s health has never been more important. Senator Schumer reaffirmed Senate Democrats’ commitment to protecting Americans’ health care from this disastrous lawsuit and making sure people have access to the care they need at time when they need it most. Oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the case are expected in the fall of 2020.

“Now more than ever, Americans need the Affordable Care Act. And yet, in the middle of this public health and economic emergency, the Trump administration is dedicating time and resources to eliminating health care coverage and pre-existing condition protections for millions of Americans,” said Leader Schumer. “But Senate Democrats won’t give up this fight. We are calling on the highest court of the land to affirm the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and protect Americans’ care. The facts and the law are indisputably on our side.”

“Taking away health care from millions of Americans in the midst of a pandemic is cruel, economically stupid and dangerous,” said former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Despite this lawsuit — and innumerable other efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act — the ACA is working to make health care more widely accessible and affordable. We should be working to strengthen it, not undermine it.”

“The nearly three dozen amicus briefs that will be filed today, together with the briefs filed last week by the House of Representatives and California and the other intervening states, demonstrate that there simply are no credible legal grounds for the argument by Texas and the Trump administration,” said Andy Pincus, Partner at Mayer Brown and Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. “These briefs also make clear the huge stakes of this case: everyone with a role in the health care system – from patient groups to health care providers to hospitals – is filing in support of the ACA. They all recognize the catastrophic consequences that would result from invalidating the ACA—and especially from doing so while the nation is fighting a pandemic.”

“The single most important issue for Americans in the middle of this crisis is their health care, and yet President Trump is doing everything he can to rip that away from them,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “If the president and his Republican allies are successful in repealing the ACA through this lawsuit, 20 million Americans will lose their health insurance, on top of the millions who have already lost their employer-based insurance during the pandemic. Everyone who contracts the coronavirus could now have a pre-existing condition and be at the mercy of their insurance companies who could refuse to pay for needed care. Today’s filings by Senate Democrats, governors and other health care groups reveal the dramatic impacts of the Trump administration’s lawsuit. It’s critical that Americans understand just what’s at stake if this disastrous and irresponsible lawsuit succeeds.”

BACKGROUND:

View the full fact sheet on Trump-Republican lawsuit to overturn the ACA HERE.

If the Affordable Care Act is struck down:

  • GONE: Protections for 135 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.