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June 2020

Trump Administration and Republican AGs Put Politically Motivated Lawsuit to Rip Health Care From Millions of Americans on Full Display in SCOTUS Briefs Being Filed Today

Washington, DC – Today, the Trump administration and Republican attorneys general are filing their briefs with the Supreme Court in support of California v. Texas, the lawsuit seeking to strike down the ACA in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. In the brief already filed by Republican AGs, they advocated for ripping health care from more than 20 million Americans, protections for 135 million American with pre-existing conditions and raising costs across the board — all in the midst of a public health crisis. The Trump administration is expected to file a similar brief later today. Voters overwhelmingly reject this lawsuit and do not support President Trump and his Republican allies’ attempts to repeal the ACA. In response to the briefs being filed today, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“President Trump and Republicans are making clear that even in the worst health crisis in a generation they are still hellbent on taking away your health care. The briefs being filed today put the Trump administration and Republicans’ politically motivated lawsuit on full display in front of the highest court as they make crystal clear their intention to rip health care from 20 million Americans and protections for 135 million with pre-existing conditions. The court should strike down this disastrous lawsuit that would devastate Americans’ health care at a time when they need it most. Americans understand exactly how dangerous and irresponsible this lawsuit is, especially as the coronavirus crisis continues to devastate the country and the health of millions of Americans continues to be at imminent risk.”

BACKGROUND:

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.
  • GONE: Ban on insurance companies having lifetime caps on coverage.
  • GONE: Requirements that insurance companies cover prescription drugs and maternity care.

For more information on the impact of the Texas lawsuit, click here.

Sen. Wyden, Majority Leader Hoyer, Rep. Cicilline Along with Health Care Experts Blast Trump and Republicans for Lawsuit to Rip Health Care From Millions of Americans

Press Call Audio Available Here

Washington, DC — On a press call this morning, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD-05), Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI-01), Chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, along with Little Lobbyists Executive Director and Co-Founder Elena Hung and Protect Our Care discussed the briefs being filed today in the Supreme Court by the Trump administration and Republican AGs in support of their lawsuit to terminate the ACA. As the elected officials on the call made clear, the briefs being filed will put the Trump and Republican lawsuit to rip health care from 20 million Americans and protections for 135 million with pre-existing conditions on full display in front of the nation’s highest court and during a global pandemic. The briefs are being filed one day after House Democrats introduced legislation to build on the ACA and make health care more accessible and affordable. 

“Today Americans are going to once again see the Trump plan for health care. Instead of steps to rein in COVID-19 and lower health care costs to families struggling to make ends meet, Trump and Bill Barr are going to publish a blueprint on how to dismantle American health care in the middle of a pandemic,” said Senator Wyden. “The stakes have always been high, but now they are even higher. Americans need to know that this brief sums up what Trump and Republicans think about health care: affordable health care is not a right for everybody.”

“The difference between Democrats’ priorities and those of Republicans could not be more stark, and I thank Protect Our Care for leading a call today on this issue and for their tireless efforts to defend Americans’ health care,” said Leader Hoyer. “As Republicans file briefs in support of their lawsuit to strike down the ACA and its protections for those with pre-existing conditions, Democrats have unveiled legislation to strengthen and enhance the ACA, which I’m proud to bring to the Floor next Monday. Our bill will build on the success of the ACA, which has provided coverage to 20 million more Americans and has brought costs down. President Trump and Congressional Republicans, on the other hand, want to take away protections for 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, raise costs, and impose an age tax on older Americans – in the middle of a pandemic. That is cruel and it will cost lives. As we approach Monday’s vote, I continue to urge Congressional Republicans to join us in protecting and strengthening the law. I hope House Republicans will join us in supporting it, and I call on Senate Republicans to take it up following House passage.”

“Republicans are obsessed with taking away health care from the American people. They’ve been trying to do it for a decade, but this is the first time they’ve tried to do it in the middle of a public health pandemic,” said Congressman Cicilline. “Democrats are voting in the House next Monday to pass Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act to lower health care costs, protect patients with pre-existing conditions, expand Medicaid, and lower prescription drug costs.”

“In the middle of a pandemic, the Trump Administration and Republican party want to destroy the law that currently provides vital protections to people with pre-existing conditions and health care coverage to millions of Americans”, said Little Lobbyists Executive Director and Co-Founder Elena Hung. “They want to repeal the ACA, and they still do not have a replacement plan. This is not a difference in politics and policies. This is a difference in morals and values. Health care is a human right, and our country deserves so much better.” 

“There is simply no action that would be more devastating to the ongoing health crisis than if the Trump administration and Republicans overturn the ACA and rip health care away from millions of Americans,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “The briefs being filed today will put the Republican war on health care on full display in front of the American people. The contrast between the efforts of Democrats to expand coverage, lower costs and strengthen protections and the ongoing Republican effort to take it all away in the middle of a pandemic could not be clearer.” 

NEW VIDEO: As America Reels From the Coronavirus Crisis, Trump Aggressively Pursues His Lawsuit to Overturn the ACA and Rip Health Care From Americans

As the nation grapples with the coronavirus crisis that threatens everyone’s health and safety, the Trump administration is aggressively pushing forward its lawsuit to “terminate” the ACA and take away Americans’ health care. “America in Crisis,” a digital ad from Protect Our Care highlights the devastation that the Trump administration’s politically motivated lawsuit before the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act would have for our nation in the midst of this pandemic. POC’s video comes on the day the Trump administration and Republican attorneys general file briefs to the Supreme Court in their lawsuit that would rip health care from 23 million Americans and protections for 135 million with pre-existing conditions. With over 120,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus and millions without jobs or health care, this lawsuit would further devastate the country and plunge our health care system into chaos at a time when people need it the most.  

WATCH: America in Crisis

Texas Lawsuit Days of Action: Prescription Drug Costs

We have reached a critical point for the future of American health care and the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Today, Trump’s Department Of Justice (DOJ) and Republican-led states are submitting their briefs in support of California v. Texas, the lawsuit seeking to strike down the ACA. 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. The consequences of the lawsuit for America’s health care are particularly devastating at a time the country is gripped by the coronavirus crisis which threatens the health and safety of the entire nation.

No action would be more damaging to Americans’ health and safety than if the Trump administration achieves their desired goal of overturning the ACA in its entirety during this crisis. When the court hears this case, there will likely be no vaccine and no viable treatment for the virus. When millions of Americans have already lost health insurance due to the pandemic, it’s absurd that President Trump is arguing in court that 20 million more Americans should lose their health care. And when millions of Americans who contract the coronavirus join the 135 million Americans with a pre-existing condition, President Trump will also be arguing in court to allow insurance companies to deny them coverage or charge them more. The submission of these briefs from Republican states will put the Trump administration’s politically-motivated lawsuit on full display for the American people in front of the highest court.

Days of Action: Day 4 of 12 focuses on prescription drug costs. To learn more about our Days of Action, visit our website.

What’s At Stake: Prescription Drug Costs

As millions of Americans are facing the possibility of coronavirus and devastating health care bills, controlling the cost of prescription drugs has never been more critical. It is paramount that patients are able to afford any viable treatments and vaccines when they are available. A recent poll found that 88 percent of Americans fear that drug companies will use the pandemic as an excuse to raise prices. If Trump gets his way and the Supreme Court strikes down the ACA, prescription drug prices will skyrocket as the country continues to battle this crisis. 

Two-Thirds Of Adults Report That Prescription Drug Prices Have Increased Under Trump. “Two-thirds of U.S. adults (66%) report that prescription drug prices have increased either a little or a lot since 2017, the first year of the Trump administration. Self-identified Democrats (81%) and independents (70%) are more likely to perceive an increase in prices than are Republicans (47%), although less than 10% among all three groups see a decline in drug prices during this period.” [Gallup, 4/28/20

Coverage Confirms Drug Companies Are Already Taking Advantage Of The Coronavirus Crisis: 

Axios: Gilead CEO Has “Punted All Questions” Related To New Coronavirus Treatment’s Cost. “Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day has punted all questions related to remdesivir’s price thus far. Gilead is giving away its existing remdesivir supply, which would cover about 140,000 patients, and won’t land on a price until more data comes in. The company is spending ‘up to $1 billion’ on the drug, though it has also received sizable taxpayer investment for remdesivir — dating back to when the drug was tested for Ebola.” [Axios, 5/7/20

  • ICER Suggested That Gilead Could Be Justified In Charging Up To $4,500 Per Treatment Course For Coronavirus Patients. “A study by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review suggested a ceiling price of $4,500 per treatment course — assuming 10 days—for remdesivir. The report considered that R&D costs for the drug would already have been reclaimed in Gilead’s antivirals that have made it to market, and would not need to be included in the pricing considerations.” [Yahoo Finance, 5/5/20

Axios: Drugmaker Tripled The Price Of A Pill As It Pursued Coronavirus Use. “Going into this year, the list price of a 60-pill bottle of Mytesi — an antidiarrheal medication specifically for people with HIV/AIDS who are on antiretroviral drugs — was $668.52. On April 9, Jaguar Health raised the price to $2,206.52, according to pricing data from Elsevier’s Gold Standard Drug Database. Between the lines: The price hike coincides with the company’s push to get its drug to more patients — specifically those diagnosed with COVID-19.” [Axios, 4/23/20

Associated Press: Gilead Sciences Sought Rare Disease Status For Potential Coronavirus Treatment, Which Is Potentially Worth Millions In Tax Breaks. “The pharmaceutical giant that makes a promising coronavirus drug has registered it as a rare disease treatment with U.S. regulators, a status that can potentially be worth millions in tax breaks and competition-free sales…The FDA granted the status on Monday, according to the agency’s website. If approved for coronavirus, Gilead Sciences would receive seven years of exclusive U.S. marketing for the drug and tax credits on its research and development costs.” [Associated Press, 3/25/20

  • Gilead Sciences Rescinded Request For Exclusivity After Backlash. “Gilead Sciences On Wednesday announced that it has submitted a request to the Food and Drug Administration to rescind the exclusive marketing rights it had secured for remdesivir, an antiviral drug that shows promise in treating Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. As The Intercept reported on Monday, the FDA had awarded Gilead seven years of exclusive marketing rights to the drug through the Orphan Drug Act, even though the statute was designed to induce pharmaceutical companies to make treatments for rare diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States.” [The Intercept, 3/25/20

If The ACA Is Overturned, The High Cost Of Prescription Drugs Would Only Get Worse:

  • GONE: Rules that increase competition in the prescription drug market and help Americans access cheaper drugs. 
  • GONE: Consumer protections that prohibit drug companies from paying off doctors behind closed doors to influence the drugs they prescribe to patients.
  • GONE: Nearly 12 million seniors will have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare ‘donut hole’ will be reopened.

ACA Repeal Means More Profits For Drug Companies And Higher Costs For Consumers. 

Consumers could be forced to pay more for drugs. The ACA’s Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act paved the way for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve biosimilars, cheaper alternatives to expensive biologics. Without the ACA, approval of biosimilars will be in jeopardy, and drug companies may be less likely to invest in new biosimilar drugs. This change will make it harder for Americans to access low-cost alternatives to expensive biologic medications. It will also jeopardize the predicted $54 billion in savings that biosimilars are expected to produce between 2017 and 2026.

Drug companies would once again be allowed to pay doctors behind closed doors (to prescribe drugs you don’t necessarily need). Without the ACA’s Physician Payments Sunshine Act, Big Pharma will once again be allowed to make payments and offer gifts to doctors behind closed doors. When these payments are made with no transparency, they can create conflicts of interest and blur the line between objective and promotional research. The outcome of the Texas lawsuit has the potential to uproot the health care system all while giving drug companies even more power. 

Reopening the “donut hole” would make medications more expensive for 12 million seniors. If the entire ACA is overturned, seniors will have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare “donut” hole will 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 Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services report

House Democrats Formally Unveil Bill to Make Health Care More Affordable and Accessible

Democrats’ Bill to Strengthen the ACA Unveiled One Day Before Trump and Republican AGs File Briefs in Support of the Lawsuit to Overturn the Law 

Washington, DC — Today at a press conference, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats formally introduced the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act” a landmark bill to improve health care for Americans by building on key provisions in the Affordable Care Act. As highlighted at today’s press conference, the bill will lower the costs of health insurance by offering increased financial assistance to more people and increasing funding for outreach for open enrollment. It will improve health care by incentivizing holdout states to expand Medicaid and expanding Medicaid eligibility for mothers 12 months postpartum. New polling this week found that a bipartisan majority of Americans support these provisions of the bill and reject Trump’s lawsuit to overturn the ACA. The introduction of Democrats’ bill comes just one day before the Trump administration and Republican-led states will file briefs in support of their lawsuit to overturn the ACA and rip health care from 20 million Americans, a contrast that has already garnered significant attention. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“The bill unveiled by House Democrats today will lower costs, expand coverage, and strengthen protections for pre-existing conditions at a time when access to affordable health care has never been more critical. Democrats are improving Americans’ health care while 24 hours later, Donald Trump and Republicans will file briefs in their lawsuit to take health care away from 20 million Americans and protections away from 135 million people with a pre-existing condition. One side is trying to rip coverage away from millions of Americans in the midst of a public health crisis while the other is trying to make health care more accessible and affordable for the American people — the choice is clear.”

Texas Lawsuit Days of Action: Key Protections for Seniors

We have reached a critical point for the future of American health care and the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On June 25th, Trump’s Department Of Justice (DOJ) and Republican-led states are submitting their briefs in support of California v. Texas, the lawsuit seeking to strike down the ACA. 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. The consequences of the lawsuit for America’s health care are particularly devastating at a time the country is gripped by the coronavirus crisis which threatens the health and safety of the entire nation.

No action would be more damaging to Americans’ health and safety than if the Trump administration achieves their desired goal of overturning the ACA in its entirety during this crisis. When the court hears this case, there will likely be no vaccine and no viable treatment for the virus. When millions of Americans have already lost health insurance due to the pandemic, it’s absurd that President Trump is arguing in court that 20 million more Americans should lose their health care. And when millions of Americans who contract the coronavirus join the 135 million Americans with a pre-existing condition, President Trump will also be arguing in court to allow insurance companies to deny them coverage or charge them more. The submission of these briefs from Republican states will put the Trump administration’s politically-motivated lawsuit on full display for the American people in front of the highest court.

Days of Action: Day 3 of 12 focuses on seniors’ health. To learn more about our Days of Action, visit our website.

What’s At Stake: Key Protections For Seniors

The Affordable Care Act ensures critical protections for seniors and older adults nationwide. Between lowering prescription drug costs and limiting the amount insurers can charge, the ACA expanded access to health care for individuals aged 50 and older. 

Health care coverage for seniors is particularly important during the coronavirus pandemic. Older adults and seniors face unique risks as the country grapples with this health care crisis. 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 100,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, with an estimated 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 40 percent of deaths associated with these facilities. 

The ACA made significant improvements in health care access for seniors: 

AARP: Before ACA’s Protections, Discrimination Against Those With Pre-Existing Conditions, Age Rating, And Annual And Lifetime Caps Made Accessing Health Care Out Of Reach For Older Adults. [AARP, 6/14/18]

Medicaid Expansion Saved The Lives Of At Least 19,200 Older Adults. A report by the Center On Budget And Policy Priorities found that “The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults is preventing thousands of premature deaths each year, a landmark study finds.[1] It saved the lives of at least 19,200 adults aged 55 to 64 over the four-year period from 2014 to 2017. Conversely, 15,600 older adults died prematurely because of state decisions not to expand Medicaid.” [Center On Budget And Policy Priorities, 11/6/19

Seniors stand to lose if the ACA is overturned. If the ACA is struck down in court: 

32 Million Older Adults With Pre-Existing Conditions Would Lose Protections. According to the Center for American Progress, nearly 32 million people aged 55-64 have pre-existing conditions. 

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.

Coverage Puts “Sharp Focus” on Trump-Republican Lawsuit to Destroy the ACA as Key Deadline Approaches and House Democrats Unveil Legislation to Improve Health Care

A series of stories this week puts the Trump administration’s years-long agenda to sabotage American health care into clear focus as a key deadline in their lawsuit to overturn the health care law approaches. On June 25th, the Trump administration and Republican-led states will file briefs in support of their lawsuit to overturn the ACA and rip health care from 20 million Americans, raise health care costs and gut protections for 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. Just days later, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats will bring legislation they introduced this week to the floor to build on the Affordable Care Act by lowering costs, expanding coverage and strengthening protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Last week, Protect Our Care published a memo arguing that this is a consequential week for American health with one side trying to rip coverage away from millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic while the other is trying to make health care more accessible and affordable for the American people. 

Reporting this week from the New York Times as well as Bloomberg and Roll Call has reaffirmed the importance of this week’s developments for the future of health care by putting into “sharp focus” the Trump administration’s intentions to rip away health care from Americans during a pandemic, in contrast to Democrats’ plans to expand coverage and lower costs. 

New York Times: G.O.P. Faces Risk From Push to Repeal Health Law During Pandemic

WASHINGTON — Republicans are increasingly worried that their decade-long push to repeal the Affordable Care Act will hurt them in the November elections, as coronavirus cases spike around the country and millions of Americans who have lost jobs during the pandemic lose their health coverage as well.

The issue will come into sharp focus this week, when the White House is expected to file legal briefs asking the Supreme Court to put an end to the program, popularly known as Obamacare. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, seizing on the moment, will unveil a Democratic bill to lower the cost of health care, with a vote scheduled for next week in the House.

Republicans have long said their goal is to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act but have yet to agree on an alternative. This week’s back-to-back developments — Ms. Pelosi’s bill announcement on Wednesday, followed on Thursday by the administration’s legal filing — has put Republicans in a difficult spot, strategists say.

In Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, jumped into the race to defeat the Republican incumbent, Senator Steve Daines, in March, just as the pandemic was exploding. Three days later, a liberal group, Protect Our Care, announced a $250,000 ad campaign attacking Mr. Daines as “dead set on taking on away Montanans’ health care” after voting five times to repeal the health law. Cook Political moved the race to its tossup column last week.

The coronavirus has changed the national discussion around health care in ways that go beyond the issue of cost. The pandemic has exposed racial disparities in care, making health care a more important issue for African-Americans and Latinos, core Democratic constituencies.

And with everyone at risk from a fast-spreading, and sometimes fatal, infectious disease, Democrats have an easier time making the case that everyone should be covered.

“For years, Republicans banked on the idea that people didn’t care about other people’s health care — that you would only care about your own, and their entire campaign against the Affordable Care Act was built on that assumption,” said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist who specializes in health care messaging.

“People now see a clear and present threat when others don’t have health care,” he said. “Republicans have no response to that because their entire worldview on health care is built on an assumption that’s now out of date.”

And with Mr. Trump making dubious claims about health care — like suggesting people inject or drink bleach, and promoting an unproven malaria drug — Democrats are seeking to paint him and his party as ignorant on an important issue.

“We have become the party of health care — this is increasingly our brand, this is what we have fought for,” said Representative Cheri Bustos, Democrat of Illinois and the chairwoman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm. “They are becoming the party of drinking bleach.”

Ms. Pelosi’s bill is aimed at shoring up the Affordable Care Act, which she helped muscle through Congress during her first speakership, and reducing premiums, which are skyrocketing. Ms. Pelosi had intended to unveil the measure in early March, for the health law’s 10th anniversary, at a joint appearance with former President Barack Obama. But the event was canceled amid the mounting coronavirus threat.

The bill would expand subsidies for health care premiums under the Affordable Care Act so families would pay no more than 8.5 percent of their income for health coverage; allow the government to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies; provide a path for uninsured pregnant women to be covered by Medicaid for a year after giving birth; and offer incentives to those states that have not expanded Medicaid under the law to do so.

The health law has already survived two court challenges. In the current Supreme Court case, 20 states, led by Texas, argue that when Congress eliminated the so-called individual mandate — the penalty for failing to obtain health insurance — lawmakers rendered the entire law unconstitutional. The Trump administration, though a defendant, supports the challenge.

Bloomberg Law: House Democrats Move to Shore Up Obamacare Ahead of Election

Democrats, seeking to draw a contrast with President Donald Trump‘s health agenda before the November elections, plan to vote this week on a package of measures to strengthen Obamacare.

House leaders have timed the vote to coincide with an important deadline for a lawsuit, which the Trump administration supports, that challenges the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Groups aligned with Democrats will hold events all week with lawmakers in battleground states highlighting the legislation and condemning the lawsuit.

The goal is to recapture for the November elections some of the energy of the 2018 midterms, when Democrats regained control of the House. The party made health care a centerpiece of its campaign platform, and will attempt to hold on to 29 seats in districts that voted for Trump in 2016. Democrats are also eyeing the Senate, where they need a four-seat gain to take control—three if they win the White House.

The House is slated to vote on the bill June 25, the same date briefs are due in a lawsuit that could overturn the health-care law if successful.

“There’s not going to be a more clear opportunity to show how the different parties are approaching health care,” said Michael Feldman, a spokesman for Protect Our Care, a pro-Affordable Care Act organization that works closely with House Democrats. Feldman’s group is holding virtual events with lawmakers in 13 states including Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.

Lawmakers in those states will look to highlight areas of the Affordable Care Act aiding those affected by the Coid-19 pandemic and the related rise in unemployment, such as the expansion of Medicaid.

… 

House leaders Monday unveiled legislation (H.R. 1425) that would expand Obamacare’s insurance subsidies and encourage more states to extend eligibility for their public health insurance programs for the poor by reducing federal funds to those states for certain administrative services. The package would be paid for by legislation (H.R. 3) directing the government to demand lower drug prices for certain medications, another main tenet of the Democrats’ health agenda.

The legislation also would support adding more Americans to Medicaid rolls by giving states the option to raise the maximum income for enrollees. It would expand eligibility for premium tax credits beyond the current limit of 400% of the federal poverty line, extending subsidized private insurance to more Americans.

Roll Call: House Democrats to consider measure to strengthen Obamacare

House Democrats on Monday released legislation to bolster the 2010 health care law, which the Rules Committee plans to consider this week.

The measure, which is expected to get a floor vote as soon as this month, comes as Democrats are betting that focusing on health care — a top priority for voters — will be to their advantage in the November elections. 

Democratic campaign committees have said in recent weeks that health care is on the ballot in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The groups issued a joint memo last month explaining how a focus on health care would draw comparisons with Republicans up and down the ballot.

The vote on the House measure will come around the same time as the Trump administration and Republican attorneys general seeking to overturn the health care law are set to file their opening briefs to the Supreme Court in Texas v. California. Those states are set to file their opening briefs on Friday.

Texas Lawsuit Days of Action: Protections for Women

We have reached a critical point for the future of American health care and the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On June 25th, Trump’s Department Of Justice (DOJ) and Republican-led states are submitting their briefs in support of California v. Texas, the lawsuit seeking to strike down the ACA. 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. The consequences of the lawsuit for America’s health care are particularly devastating at a time the country is gripped by the coronavirus crisis which threatens the health and safety of the entire nation.

No action would be more damaging to Americans’ health and safety than if the Trump administration achieves their desired goal of overturning the ACA in its entirety during this crisis. When the court hears this case, there will likely be no vaccine and no viable treatment for the virus. When millions of Americans have already lost health insurance due to the pandemic, it’s absurd that President Trump is arguing in court that 20 million more Americans should lose their health care. And when millions of Americans who contract the coronavirus join the 135 million Americans with a pre-existing condition, President Trump will also be arguing in court to allow insurance companies to deny them coverage or charge them more. The submission of these briefs from Republican states will put the Trump administration’s politically-motivated lawsuit on full display for the American people in front of the highest court.

Days of Action: Day 2 of 12 focuses on health care protections for women. To learn more about our Days of Action, visit our website.

What’s At Stake: Protections for Women

Health care coverage for women is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic. Women are on the front lines of responding to the crisis as health care workers and other essential jobs and are therefore more likely to be exposed to the coronavirus. At the same time, the economic impacts of the pandemic have disproportionately impacted women, who have seen greater job loss overall–likely resulting in loss of health care coverage as well. 

New York Times: 52 Percent Of All Essential Workers Are Women. “Women make up nearly nine out of 10 nurses and nursing assistants, most respiratory therapists, a majority of pharmacists and an overwhelming majority of pharmacy aides and technicians. More than two-thirds of the workers at grocery store checkouts and fast food counters are women.” [New York Times, 4/18/20

Women Make Up 77 Percent Of All Health Care Workers. “There are 19 million health care workers nationwide, nearly three times as many as in agriculture, law enforcement and the package delivery industry combined…There are now four registered nurses for every police officer, and still hospitals raise alarms about nursing shortages. Within this massive, ever-growing and now indispensable part of the economy, nearly four out of five workers are women.” [New York Times, 4/18/20

  • In Mid-June, National Nurses United Reported 939 Covid-Related Deaths Among Health Care Workers. “The nation’s largest nurses union, National Nurses United, puts the total much higher: 939 fatalities among health-care workers, based on reports from its chapters around the country, social media and obituaries. Nurses represent about 15 percent of those deaths, the union said.” [Washington Post, 6/17/20
  • An April CDC Report Found That Women Accounted For 73 Percent Of Infections Among Health Care Workers. “This is reflected in another grim statistic: While male doctors and nurses have died on the front lines, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that women account for 73 percent of the U.S. health care workers who have been infected since the outbreak began.” [New York Times, 4/18/20

In April, The Unemployment Rate For Women Reached 15.5 Percent, Compared To 13 Percent For Men. “The US economy shed an unprecedented 20.5 million jobs in April alone, pushing the unemployment rate to 14.7% — the highest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began to track monthly data in 1948…But it was worse for women: The unemployment rate for women climbed to 15.5%, while the rate for men increased to 13%, according to the BLS. Women of color were especially hard hit by the job losses, with the April unemployment rates reaching 16.4% for black women and 20.2% for Hispanic women.” [CNN, 5/11/20

If the ACA is overturned, key protections for women would be ripped away overnight: 

  • GONE: Protections for 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. The uninsured rate will increase by 65 percent. 
  • GONE: Insurance companies will be able to charge women 50 percent more than men.
  • GONE: Contraception coverage for 60 million people who now have access to birth control with no out-of-pocket costs.
  • GONE: A ban on discrimination for women, LGBTQ Americans, and individuals with disabilities in health care settings. 
  • GONE: Essential protections for breastfeeding parents, including workplace standards and access to breast pumps with no out-of-pocket costs.

68 million women with pre-existing conditions would lose protections. An estimated 68 million women and girls have pre-existing conditions that would be grounds for insurance companies charging more or denying them coverage without the ACA.. According to Planned Parenthood: “Millions of women were denied coverage because of a range of health issues labeled as pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy, breast cancer, and irregular periods. Black and Latino women face higher rates of many chronic illnesses. As a result, higher premiums or denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions threaten the health and financial security of women of color the most.” 

Women can be charged more than men for the same coverage. Prior to the ACA, women were often charged premiums on the nongroup market of up to 50 percent higher than men for the same coverage. Without the ACA, women would also lose guaranteed coverage of birth control and other preventive care services. Before the ACA, 1 in 5 women reported postponing or going without preventive care due to cost.

More than 60 million people could lose access to birth control with no out-of-pocket fees. The ACA guarantees that private health plans cover 18 methods of contraception and make them available to 62.4 million patients with no out-of-pocket costs. More than 99 percent of sexually-active women have used contraceptives at some point in their lifetimes, and approximately 60 percent of women of reproductive age currently use at least one birth control method. In addition to increasing access to this essential treatment, this ACA provision has saved money for women and their families: women saved $1.4 billion on birth control pills alone in 2013.

Women, LGBTQ Americans, and individuals with disabilities can face discrimination in health care settings. Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits discrimination the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability by any health program or activity receiving federal assistance. It also prohibits these types of discrimination in health programs and activities administered by HHS as well as the ACA marketplaces. 

Nursing parents would lose breastfeeding support and critical workplace protections. The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover breastfeeding support and counseling, as well as breast pumps without cost-sharing for pregnant and nursing women.

NEW: House Democrats Unveil Bill to Make Health Care More Affordable and Accessible

Democrats’ Bill to Strengthen the ACA Comes Just Days Before Trump and Republican AGs File Briefs on June 25 in Support of the Lawsuit to Overturn the Law 

Washington, DC — Today House Democrats released the language of their bill to improve health care for Americans by building on key provisions in the Affordable Care Act. The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act” would improve health care by incentivizing holdout states to expand Medicaid and expanding Medicaid eligibility for mothers 12 months postpartum. The bill will also increase coverage affordability by offering increased financial assistance to more people and increase funding for outreach for open enrollment. The introduction of Democrats’ bill comes the same week as the Trump administration and Republican-led states will file briefs in support of their lawsuit to overturn the ACA and rip health care from 20 million Americans. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“The bill introduced by House Democrats today will lower costs, expand coverage, and strengthen protections for pre-existing conditions. While Democrats will be moving forward with this bill to improve Americans’ health care, Trump and Republicans are moving forward with a lawsuit that would destroy it — in the middle of a pandemic. The choice could not be clearer — one side is trying to rip coverage away from millions of Americans in the midst of a public health crisis while the other is trying to make health care more accessible and affordable for the American people.”

Texas Lawsuit Days of Action: Medicaid Expansion

We have reached a critical point for the future of American health care and the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On June 25th, Trump’s Department Of Justice (DOJ) and Republican-led states are submitting their briefs in support of California v. Texas, the lawsuit seeking to strike down the ACA. 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. The consequences of the lawsuit for America’s health care are particularly devastating at a time the country is gripped by the coronavirus crisis which threatens the health and safety of the entire nation.

No action would be more damaging to Americans’ health and safety than if the Trump administration achieves their desired goal of overturning the ACA in its entirety during this crisis. When the court hears this case, there will likely be no vaccine and no viable treatment for the virus. When millions of Americans have already lost health insurance due to the pandemic, it’s absurd that President Trump is arguing in court that 20 million more Americans should lose their health care. And when millions of Americans who contract the coronavirus join the 135 million Americans with a pre-existing condition, President Trump will also be arguing in court to allow insurance companies to deny them coverage or charge them more. The submission of these briefs from Republican states will put the Trump administration’s politically-motivated lawsuit on full display for the American people in front of the highest court.

Days of Action: Day 1 of 12 focuses on Medicaid Expansion. To learn more about our Days of Action, visit our website.

What’s At Stake: Medicaid Expansion

Overturning the Affordable Care Act would take coverage away from millions of working families and children who finally gained health coverage thanks to Medicaid expansion. The impact of eliminating Medicaid expansion would be particularly devastating as the nation is still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Medicaid Expansion Is A Key Tool In Fighting Coronavirus. Because of the ACA, states can get additional federal money to expand Medicaid to vulnerable populations, including low-income childless adults, older adults, and people with disabilities. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 27 million Americans likely lost their health care during the pandemic. In states that have rejected expansion, many of these individuals are likely locked out of receiving Medicaid coverage. 

As A Result Of The Pandemic, An Additional 300,000 People In North Carolina Fall Into The Medicaid “Coverage Gap.” As a result of the state’s decision to reject Medicaid expansion, 500,000 North Carolinians fell into the “coverage gap”–where they made too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for ACA subsidies–just ahead of the pandemic. Officials estimate that this figure has grown by 300,000 during the coronavirus crisis. If North Carolina expanded Medicaid, these 800,000 individuals could get covered. 

Uninsured People Are Particularly Vulnerable As They Face The Possibility Of Coronavirus And Devastating Health Care Bills. Low-income individuals are especially at risk for being exposed to the virus, as they are often service workers deemed essential and are unable to practice social distancing. 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. It is especially important for these families to have Medicaid to turn to for coverage in this public health emergency. 

17 Million People Nationwide Are Currently Enrolled Through Medicaid Expansion

Medicaid Expansion Saves Lives. A report by the Center On Budget And Policy Priorities found that “the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults is preventing thousands of premature deaths each year, a landmark study finds. It saved the lives of at least 19,200 adults aged 55 to 64 over the four-year period from 2014 to 2017. Conversely, 15,600 older adults died prematurely because of state decisions not to expand Medicaid.” 

Medicaid Expansion Led To Gains In Coverage For Children. A study in Health Affairs found that 710,000 children gained public coverage as a result of their parents enrolling in Medicaid between 2013 and 2015. The study notes “the effect was largest among children whose parents gained Medicaid eligibility through the expansion.” If the remaining non-expansion states expanded Medicaid, 200,000 additional children would gain health coverage. 

Medicaid Expansion Helps Reduce Racial Disparities In Health Care. Medicaid expansion played a key role in increasing coverage rates for communities of color. After the implementation of the ACA, gaps in insurance coverage narrowed the most in states that adopted Medicaid expansion. Today, a Black person living in an expansion state is more likely to be insured than a white person residing in a state that rejected Medicaid expansion. 

If the Affordable Care Act is struck down:

  • Seventeen Million People Enrolled Through Medicaid Expansion Could Lose Coverage.
  • 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 hospitals with $9.6 billion more in uncompensated care. 
  • States Would Lose Important Federal Health Care Funding — an estimated reduction of $135 billion in the first year. The Urban Institute estimates that a full repeal of the ACA would reduce federal spending on Medicaid/CHIP care and Marketplace subsidies by $135 billion, or 34.6 percent in the first year.