Monthly Archives

January 2021

Shot/Chaser: Senator Rob Portman Thinks Reconciliation “Would Be Great” For Tax Cuts, But “Poison” For COVID Relief

Senator Rob Portman used to think reconciliation was a great tool to pass major tax breaks for the ultra rich and attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Now, in the face of Republican obstruction, Democrats want to use reconciliation to pass the American Rescue Plan to deliver direct checks to families, money for vaccines, and aid for small businesses. And it seems Portman has had a change of heart.

Shot: Senator Portman appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to dismiss the use of reconciliation to pass the American Rescue Plan.

[@mkraju, 1/31/21]

Chaser: Portman was supportive of using reconciliation to pass major tax cuts for the rich and to undo the Affordable Care Act.

The Washington Post: Rob Portman: What a GOP Senate Would Do

“Reconciliation would be great,” he [Portman] says brightly. “We could do one for spending, one for revenue and one for the debt limit. We ought to do that.” 

HEADLINES: President Biden Delivers on Campaign Promise to Expand Access to Health Care

On Thursday, President Biden signed executive orders to reopen HealthCare.gov for a special enrollment period to help people get coverage and remove barriers to enrolling in Medicaid. These executive orders build on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act just as Americans who are facing an ever-worsening public health crisis need help the most. Coverage shows President Biden is committed to delivering on his health care promises and reversing the health care sabotage agenda of Trump and Republicans. These executive orders are important first steps to making sure Americans have more affordable health coverage and access to better care. 

Washington Post: Biden Reopens ACA Enrollment for Three Months in Opening Bid to Extend Health Coverage. “The directive, part of a series of executive actions the president is taking during his first days in office, is a down payment on his pledge to make health care more accessible and affordable and a sign of his determination to rehabilitate the landmark law after four years of Republican battering. Those goals have taken on more urgency as 25 million people have been infected with the coronavirus and millions of others have lost jobs.” [Washington Post, 1/28/21

New York Times: Biden Moves to Expand Health Coverage in Pandemic Economy. “President Biden on Thursday ordered the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces reopened to give people throttled by the pandemic economy a new chance to obtain coverage, and he took steps to restore coverage mandates that had been undermined by his predecessor, including protecting those with pre-existing medical conditions. Thursday’s orders also took aim at Trump-era restrictions on Medicaid, especially on work requirements imposed by some states on poor people trying to obtain coverage.” [New York Times, 1/28/21

  • New York Times: “Perhaps No Policy Is as Important to [Biden] as the Affordable Care Act, Which He Helped Secure as President Barack Obama’s Vice President.” Mr. Biden used Thursday’s appearance at the White House to begin shoring up health care programs and policies that have been critical to a Democratic resurgence. Perhaps no policy is as important to him as the Affordable Care Act, which he helped secure as President Barack Obama’s vice president. President Donald J. Trump tried and failed to overturn the law, then weakened it with executive actions and rules, including making it easier for people to buy cheap, short-term plans that are not required to cover pre-existing medical conditions. [New York Times, 1/28/21

AP: Biden Opens ‘Obamacare’ Window For Uninsured As COVID Rages. “President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered government health insurance markets to reopen for a special sign-up window, offering uninsured Americans a haven as the spread of COVID-19 remains dangerously high and vaccines aren’t yet widely available. Biden signed an executive order directing the HealthCare.gov insurance markets to take new applications for subsidized benefits, something Donald Trump’s administration had refused to do.” [Chicago Tribune, 1/28/21]

USA Today: Biden Signs Executive Action to Reopen Obamacare Enrollment Amid COVID-19, End Gag Rule. “President Joe Biden on Thursday took initial steps to expand health care coverage and reverse some of the policies of former President Donald Trump, including directing that people be given a new chance to sign up for government-subsidized care and lifting restrictions on abortion and family planning services.” [USA Today, 1/28/21

The Hill: Biden Signs Health Care Executive Actions to ‘Undo The Damage’ Caused by Trump. “President Biden on Thursday signed two executive actions focused on health care, describing the directives as a necessary effort to ‘undo the damage’ done by former President Trump…The president repeatedly insisted Thursday that the directives did nothing but reverse the Trump administration’s policies and restore the policies of the Obama administration.” [The Hill, 1/28/21

CNN: Biden Signs Executive Order to Reopen Affordable Care Act Enrollment. “It’s Biden’s first move toward delivering on his campaign promise to bolster the landmark health reform law that he championed as vice president. And it comes as more Americans could be facing the loss of coverage because of the pandemic-fueled economic downturn.” [CNN, 1/28/21

Modern Healthcare: Biden to Reopen ACA Marketplace, Revisit Work Requirements. “President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered HHS to create a special enrollment period to allow people to sign up for a health plan through Affordable Care Act marketplaces and reexamine policies like Medicaid work requirements that make it more difficult for individuals to access or afford coverage.” [Modern Healthcare, 1/28/21

The Upshot: Biden’s Obamacare Do-Over: Another Chance to Sign Up, This One More Publicized. “In December, the last Obamacare enrollment period under the Trump administration closed. Now that the Biden administration has arrived, it’s trying a do-over. The renewed effort reflects the Biden team’s view that the Trump administration did too little to help people find coverage, despite a public health crisis and waves of job losses. Although insurance sign-ups were up a bit compared with last year, the growth did not match the increase in need.” [New York Times, 1/28/21

New York Times: Biden’s Health Care Moves. “Biden’s orders still matter, because Trump’s actions mattered. Biden will try to strengthen protections for people with medical conditions. He will also create a new three-month sign-up period for Obamacare, starting next month, aimed partly at people who lost their jobs during the pandemic. The most recent sign-up period was in the fall.” [New York Times, 1/29/21

  • New York Times: “Perhaps Most Significant, the Biden Administration Plans to Promote the Sign-Up Period Heavily.” “Perhaps most significant, the Biden administration plans to promote the sign-up period heavily, through advertisements, email and other outreach, according to my colleague Margot Sanger-Katz, who’s been covering Obamacare for most of its existence. ‘Biden’s people think the Trump people bungled the regular enrollment period,’ Margot told me.” [New York Times, 1/29/21

The Health 202: HealthCare.gov Will Now Be Open During Tax Season.“This special sign-up period could help the Biden administration start reversing incremental declines in ACA enrollment. Over the course of the Trump administration, the number of people buying coverage on HealthCare.gov gradually eroded. Biden, who has made boosting marketplace enrollment a top goal, said yesterday that ‘basically the best way’ to describe his action is that it is intended “to undo the damage Trump has done.” [Washington Post, 1/29/21

  • The Health 202: “Biden’s Health Care Order Puts Medicaid Work Requirements Under the Microscope.” “Biden’s health-care order puts Medicaid work requirements under the microscope. Biden’s executive order on health care also directs federal agencies to reexamine rules that have made it more difficult for people to enroll in Medicaid or that could undermine protections for people with preexisting conditions.” [Washington Post, 1/29/21

Talking Points Memo: Biden Signs Exec Order ‘Restoring the Affordable Care Act’ After Trump’s Sabotage Attempts. “During its first two years, the Trump administration gutted money for advertising and for community groups that helped people enroll, seeing such an effort as wasteful. Biden’s executive order to reopen enrollment for a three-month period, extending from  Feb. 15 and May 15, may help people who have lost coverage in the past year due to the pandemic. Enrollment will be open, however, to those seeking health insurance for any reason, in any of the 36 states that use Healthcare.gov.” [Talking Points Memo, 1/28/21]

HEADLINES: Biden Moves to Reverse Trump’s Health Care Sabotage, Expand Health Care Access

Ahead of President Biden signing executive orders today to increase access to affordable health care, coverage shows these actions are a repudiation of Trump and Republicans’ years-long war on health care. These are the first steps President Biden is taking to deliver on his promises to build on the Affordable Care Act by reopening HealthCare.gov for a special enrollment period to help people get coverage and removing barriers to enrolling in Medicaid, as Americans continue to face the coronavirus pandemic.

Politico: Biden Takes First Step Toward Bolstering Obamacare. “President Joe Biden is taking the first step toward rebuilding Obamacare, ushering in a new era for the health care law after a decade of Republican attacks. The Biden administration on Thursday announced it’s throwing open the doors to the law’s enrollment site, HealthCare.gov, making it easier for the uninsured to get coverage during the pandemic. It is also expected to restore Obamacare marketing funds that the Trump administration had gutted, and it will soon begin the process of reversing the previous administration’s changes seen as undermining the health law and Medicaid.” [Politico, 1/28/21

CNN: Biden Will Sign Executive Order to Reopen Affordable Care Act Enrollment. “President Joe Biden will reopen enrollment on the federal Affordable Care Act exchanges on Thursday as part of a series of executive actions related to health care, taking a step to help uninsured Americans that former President Donald Trump rejected. It’s Biden’s first move toward delivering on his campaign promise to bolster the landmark health reform law that he championed as vice president. And it comes as more Americans could be facing the loss of coverage because of the pandemic-fueled economic downturn.” [CNN, 1/28/21

The Hill: Biden to Take Action on ACA Marketplaces, Medicaid. “President Biden will direct federal agencies this week to reopen the ObamaCare marketplaces and roll back the Trump administration’s changes to Medicaid in a repudiation of his predecessor’s health care policies. Biden’s executive orders are expected to set the stage for his presidency by reinforcing his belief that the federal government should make it easier — not harder — for people to get health care.” [The Hill, 1/27/21

Associated Press: Biden to Open ‘Obamacare’ Markets for COVID-19 Relief. “Fulfilling a campaign promise, President Joe Biden plans to reopen the HealthCare.gov insurance markets for a special sign-up opportunity geared to people needing coverage in the coronavirus pandemic. [Associated Press, 1/27/21

New York Times: Biden Plans to Reopen Obamacare Exchanges in Many States. “The Biden administration plans to reopen enrollment in many of the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, both to help those who may have lost health insurance during the pandemic and to offer coverage to those who did not have any and now want it. The move will be announced on Thursday as part of an executive order describing administration policies on shoring up health insurance coverage, according to three people familiar with the details.” [New York Times, 1/27/21

ABC News: Biden to Expand Affordable Care Act Enrollment Amid COVID-19 in New Executive Order. “President Joe Biden will tackle the issue of health care Thursday with two executive actions aimed at expanding enrollment for the Affordable Care Act amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and addressing reproductive health, according to the White House. The actions continue a series of executive moves by Biden in his first week in office, setting an ambitious tone for his administration on a number of policy areas.” [ABC News, 1/28/21

HuffPost: Biden Administration to Reopen Obamacare Enrollment, Start Undoing Trump Sabotage. “President Joe Biden on Thursday will announce a series of executive actions on health care, including one designed to boost health insurance enrollment through the Affordable Care Act and one designed to undo President Donald Trump’s attempts at undermining the law.” [HuffPost, 1/28/21

Biden Delivers on Election Promise to Improve and Expand Health Care Access and Reverse Trump’s Health Care Sabotage

Executive Orders Will Start Special Enrollment Period, Remove Barriers to Medicaid

Washington, DC — Today, President Biden will sign executive orders to start to roll back Republicans’ years-long war on health care and increase access to affordable health care by reopening HealthCare.gov for a special enrollment period to help people enroll in Affordable Care Act health plans and removing barriers to enrolling in Medicaid as Americans continue to face the coronavirus pandemic. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement: 

“President Biden pledged to build on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act and use his executive authority to reverse Trump’s sabotage, and he began fulfilling that promise today. Today’s executive actions are a critical first step in rolling back Republicans’ war on health care and increasing coverage. Reopening the ACA marketplace means nearly 9 million people will be eligible for free or subsidized health insurance coverage. Recent polling shows people think coverage is more expensive than it actually is. There is an estimated $1 billion in unspent funds from the Trump administration that can be used to promote this special enrollment period. As Americans continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, which has cost millions of Americans their jobs and health insurance, they need coverage more than ever. Additionally, by removing barriers to Medicaid enrollment implemented by the Trump administration, President Biden is making sure vulnerable populations can access the care they need. Between today’s executive actions and including provisions to make health care more affordable in his American Rescue Plan, President Biden is delivering on his promises and making sure Americans can get the coverage they need.”

As Health Care Takes Center Stage, Protect Our Care Releases Agenda to Lower Costs, Improve Care and Reduce Inequities

Protect Our Care Says Key Health Care Measures Must Be Included As Congress Considers COVID Relief and Budget Reconciliation 

Read the Agenda Here

Washington, DC — Today, Protect Our Care released a health care agenda detailing steps President Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress should take to improve Americans’ health care. The agenda lays out both administrative and legislative actions to expand coverage, lower costs, strengthen protections and address inequities in care. The agenda comes as the Biden administration prepares to sign executive orders related to health care, presses forward with the American Rescue Plan, which includes key health care affordability provisions, and Congress prepares to move forward on budget reconciliation if Republicans fail to agree to the rescue plan America needs.   

“Protect Our Care’s health care agenda lays out common sense measures in line with what Democrats, including President Biden, have run and won on when it comes to health care. These provisions will increase coverage and lower costs, and they are even more important as Americans battle the pandemic. President Biden has put health care front and center since taking office by prioritizing critical executive orders that make sure more Americans can get covered and remove barriers to enrolling in Medicaid. We look forward to working with President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress to move our common agenda forward,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse

“President Biden’s American Rescue Plan includes strong provisions to reduce the cost of health insurance for millions of Americans and get millions more covered. Polling shows that large majorities of Republican voters support these provisions, and Republican members of Congress should support them too. And if Republicans refuse, any COVID relief budget reconciliation plan should include them. That’s what Americans want and expect. Americans cannot afford to wait any longer,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach.

NEW AD: Protect Our Care Launches National TV Ad on the Urgent Need for Biden’s American Rescue Plan

President Biden’s Plan Will Put Pandemic Response Back on Track After Trump’s Failure to Act

Washington, DC — Protect Our Care announced a new TV ad today praising President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The national cable ad, “Rescue” will start this week. The ad details the current coronavirus crisis left by Trump, the actions President Biden is trying to take to get the pandemic under control. The ad calls on Congress to take action to get Americans the relief they so desperately need.

Watch: “Rescue”

“The Trump administration left President Biden with the coronavirus crisis careening out of control. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are spiraling, and the economic consequences are worsening,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Biden is doing everything he can to address the crisis, using every tool available to the administration, but these measures alone won’t be enough to crush the virus and get America’s economy back on track. Congress must pass Biden’s rescue package immediately to get Americans the critical resources they need to fight the virus and get back to work.”

The American Rescue Plan includes direct stimulus for American families, expansion of unemployment benefits, state and local aid designed to keep first responders on the job, crucial funding for vaccine distribution and testing efforts and help for millions who can’t afford health insurance. These provisions, when paired with the rest of the Biden administration’s efforts to drastically scale up the nation’s pandemic response, will lay the foundation to finally get this public health crisis under control. 

Protect Our Care Applauds Health Care Affordability Act of 2021

Introduced by Reps. Underwood, Gomez, O’Halleran, Legislation Would Lower Health Insurance Premiums

Washington, DC — Today, Representatives Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) and Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) introduced the Health Care Affordability Act of 2021. The legislation would expand access to quality, affordable health care by increasing the size of the tax credits in the Health Insurance Marketplace, and making tax credits available to more people, lowering health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs for Americans. These policies passed the House in June 2020, and were included in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“This legislation takes bold steps to ensure families are able to afford the health insurance they need by making sure people will not pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for coverage. Making health insurance more affordable and accessible is especially important because of the coronavirus pandemic, when millions of Americans have lost their jobs and their health insurance. This bill builds on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act by lowering skyrocketing health care costs and making quality, affordable health insurance available to millions. Congress should include this legislation in its next COVID relief package by adopting this key piece of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.”

After Four Long Years, Donald Trump’s War on American Health Care Ends Tomorrow

Joe Biden’s Inauguration Will Mark a New Beginning on Health Care: Better Coverage, Lower Costs and an End to the Pandemic 

Washington, DC — On Wednesday, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, closing President Trump’s dark chapter of health care sabotage and his colossal failure to address the worst public health crisis in over a century. At noon tomorrow, Americans can breathe a sigh of relief as President Biden will immediately launch a national plan to end the pandemic and put in place an administration that will fight for better, more affordable health care for every American. 

“Four years ago, President Trump’s first act as president was an Executive Order directing his cabinet to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act. Four years later, the ACA is here to stay, and President Trump is out of a job, along with the congressional majorities he came in with,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “Since taking office, Trump has seized every opportunity to attack health care and the Affordable Care Act. From trying to eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions, to throwing people off of Medicaid and completely failing to respond to the pandemic, Trump has been a disaster for American health care. Trump’s four year war on health care will end after costing the Republicans the White House and both chambers of Congress and with the ACA more popular than ever.”

“After Joe Biden is sworn in tomorrow, people will go to bed knowing better health care is on its way,” said Protect Our Care Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Voters elected Joe Biden because he will build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act by expanding coverage, improving care, addressing inequities and lowering costs. With Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer at his side and Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress, President Biden will deliver on his promises and deliver better health care for tens of millions of Americans.”

NEW POLL: Health Care Is a Priority for Georgia Voters

Washington, DC — With Democrats poised to take control of the Senate, a new PPP poll on behalf of Protect Our Care released today shows health care delivered the Georgia Democratic runoff victories and the Senate majority. Further, the issue remains top of mind for voters. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“This poll shows voters in Georgia saw health care as a key issue when they elected Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the Senate. By choosing Democrats to control the White House and Congress, voters gave them a clear mandate to implement their health care agenda. Tired of Trump’s relentless sabotage agenda, voters identified health care as a top priority and are ready for Congress to work with President-elect Biden to deliver on his health care plan to build on the Affordable Care Act by expanding access, lowering costs and strengthening protections for pre-existing conditions. Health care continues to deliver for Democrats as voters overwhelmingly trust them to implement more accessible and affordable policies.”

See the full PPP memo and toplines

Key Findings

  • 80% of voters surveyed who supported Ossoff and 79% who supported Warnock say health care was either the most important or a very important issue in deciding which candidate to support. Meanwhile, just 44% of Perdue voters and 45% of Loeffler voters say health care was a key issue in deciding their vote.
  • Health care is a critical issue among a large majority of African-American voters: 85% who supported Warnock and Ossoff say health care was either the most important or a very important issue in deciding their vote for Senate.
  • 54% of independents surveyed say they trusted Warnock and Ossoff more on the issue of healthcare, compared to just 23% who trusted Loeffler and Perdue more. Meanwhile, 55% of these independents say they voted for Warnock and 57% voted for Ossoff.
  • 68% of Georgians say they will be disappointed if Warnock and Ossoff fail to deliver on health care promises made during their campaigns. 

Protect Our Care Applauds President-Elect Biden’s Selection of Andrea Palm as Deputy Secretary of HHS

Washington, DC — Today, President-elect Biden announced that he has chosen Andrea Palm, the Secretary-designate of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, to be Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. During the Obama-Biden administration, Palm served as Chief of Staff and as Senior Counselor to the Secretary of HHS. Leslie Dach, Chair of Protect Our Care, who also served as Senior Counselor to the HHS Secretary at the same time as Palm, issued the following statement:

“Andrea Palm will be a great Deputy Secretary of HHS. She knows the building and has deep respect for the people who work there. She is kind, she is tough, and she knows the issues. In Wisconsin she did an extraordinary job combatting the pandemic, respecting the science and the facts, protecting the public health, and telling the truth to the people she served. I worked with Andrea every day I was at HHS, and she is a public servant through and through.”