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January 2021

In Trump Administration’s Final Days, CMS Finalizes Provision to Sabotage ACA Exchanges

Washington, DC — On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized several provisions for the annual Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) for the 2022 benefit year, which outlines regulatory and financial guidelines applicable to exchange plans, and includes a provision allowing states to drop and instead direct people to buy ACA coverage through insurers and private brokers. In response to the provision, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“This latest move from CMS shows the stark difference between the Trump administration, which is spending its final days continuing its sabotage agenda by trying to rip coverage from people during a pandemic, and the incoming Biden administration, which will spend its first days working to expand health care coverage for Americans. The unprecedented provision issued by CMS undercuts the Affordable Care Act, injects chaos into the entire health care system and puts coverage for millions of Americans at risk. By pushing people to buy plans through private brokers, consumers are more likely to purchase junk plans that don’t cover essential health benefits or have protections for pre-existing conditions. 

“While the Biden administration will be able to reverse these harmful changes, it will take significant time and resources that could be spent on other pressing issues, like responding to the coronavirus pandemic. It is shameful — but not surprising — that the Trump administration is using its final days to cement its legacy of blocking Americans from getting quality, affordable health coverage.”

Protect Our Care Praises Biden’s ‘American Rescue Plan’

Along with Delivering Relief to Americans and Fixing Problems with the Vaccine Distribution Rollout, Biden’s Ambitious Plan Will Make Health Care More Accessible and Addresses Racial Disparities

Washington, DC — Following President-elect Joe Biden’s release of his ‘American Rescue Plan,’ Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“We commend President-elect Biden for putting forth a package to address the disaster he will inherit from Donald Trump and his failed leadership. It will take time to fill the steep hole this administration has left us in, but delivering relief into the hands of Americans, fixing Trump’s disastrous vaccine distribution rollout, and getting resources to states and localities are vital to rescuing our nation from a pandemic that has gone on far too long and been far too costly to the American people. Importantly, this package includes crucial provisions to expand health care coverage, make accessing health care more affordable and address racial disparities in coronavirus treatment and outcomes.

“During the entirety of this pandemic, President Trump and Republicans refused to lift a finger to help people get covered or make health care more affordable. In fact, the Trump administration is before the Supreme Court right now trying to rip coverage away; but President-elect Biden is doing the right thing by working to preserve and expand health care coverage and end the pandemic. Congress should move quickly to provide this much needed relief for Americans.”

After Four Years of Mounting a Relentless War on American Health Care, Trump Administration Spends Final Days Gutting Medicaid

Washington, DC — On Friday, the Trump administration approved a proposal in Tennessee that would make the state’s Medicaid program a block grant. Block granting Medicaid funds is seen by health care experts as blatant attempts to gut coverage and kick people off the rolls, and have repeatedly been rejected by Congress. These actions come at a time when more and more Americans are enrolling in Medicaid across the country due to the pandemic. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“The Trump administration and CMS Administrator Seema Verma are spending their final days in power kicking people when they are down by ripping away health care during a pandemic. Instead of focusing on the nearly 4,000 Americans dying per day from coronavirus, Trump and Verma are running through the tape to cement their legacy of blocking as many people from coverage as possible. Initiating block grants isn’t about improving or reforming health care; it’s about ripping coverage away from more Americans, plain and simple. Thankfully, this will be reversed by the Biden administration who will instead work to ensure everyone has affordable, quality health care and to get the deadly pandemic under control.”

HEADLINES: With Senate Majority, President-Elect Biden Can Take Bold Action on Health Care

With the election of Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate, health care champions have secured a majority in the chamber and are ready to help deliver on President-elect Biden’s bold health care agenda. Coverage shows Democrats capturing the Senate majority creates opportunities for the Biden administration to enact the president-elect’s vision to lower costs, expand coverage and defend the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

New York Times: With New Majority, Here’s What Democrats Can (and Can’t) Do on Health Care. “Congress is most likely to act on a set of changes meant to expand the Affordable Care Act and to make health coverage less expensive for those who buy their own plans. One priority is raising the income ceiling for those who receives subsidies, expanding the number of people who qualify for help. Another is rewriting formulas to peg the size of the subsidy to a more generous health insurance plan, a way to increase the amount of assistance…Democratic legislators may also be eager to protect the A.C.A. another way, passing legislation that would neuter Texas v. California, the pending Supreme Court challenge that argues the entire A.C.A. is unconstitutional.” [New York Times, 1/7/21]

Washington Post: The Georgia Wins Gave Democrats the Narrowest of Openings for Passing Health Policy. “For the first time since passing Obamacare a decade ago, Democrats will have a narrow margin to push health-care legislation through Congress without GOP help…House Democrats have made clear where they’d like to go on health care, in their ideal world. Last June, the House passed a significant expansion to the ACA. They knew it wouldn’t go anywhere under President Trump, but the measure laid down a marker for the direction Democratic leaders would like to move on the issue in the future.” [Washington Post, 1/7/21]

JAMA Network: Get Ready for a Lot of Biden Executive Orders on Health Care. “With the Democrats apparently poised to take control of the Senate following the runoff votes in Georgia, these proposals are all in play. However, some could be controversial even among Democrats, such as a public option health plan. Policies that can be enacted through complex rules governing budgetary legislation are most likely to move ahead because they can pass the Senate with simple majority votes and are not subject to a filibuster, which requires 60 votes to overcome…President-elect Biden is expected to reverse the Trump administration waiver rules. He could go further and encourage states to use flexibility under the ACA and Medicaid to expand coverage and improve affordability for patients.” [JAMA Network, 1/7/21]

Healthcare Finance News: With Democrats Winning Both Georgia Runoff Elections, the Biden Administration Could Make Substantial Changes to Healthcare. “A Biden presidency is expected to impact the business of healthcare in the U.S., and with the Democratic victories in Georgia, the chances are now much greater that his proposed changes will come to pass in some form. The first and most obvious implication for the healthcare industry is that the ACA will remain intact in some form. With years-long Republican opposition to the law and attempts to overturn it in the courts, that wasn’t always a given.” [Healthcare Finance News, 1/7/21]

Vox: 3 Health Care Policy Predictions Now That Democrats Have Won Control of the Senate. “Democrats have won control of the Senate, and suddenly the possibilities for health care policy look a little wider than they did before the Georgia runoff elections. Their Senate majority will be slim as can be, and their margin for error in the House is also quite small. So it’s not going to be easy to get anything done. But it seems likely that the Biden White House and a Democratic Congress will try to pass legislation to expand health coverage.” [Vox, 1/6/21]

Modern Healthcare: Six Healthcare Policies Democrats Could Push with Control of the Senate. “Democrats will have much more latitude to pursue their healthcare agenda with a trifecta government because they could use a tool called budget reconciliation to pass certain types of legislation with a simple Senate majority instead of the usual 60-vote threshold. The process has limits, but some of Biden’s priorities could potentially be accomplished.” [Modern Healthcare, 1/6/21]

USA Today: ‘Buckle Up!’ A Democratic Senate Could Help Advance Biden’s Agenda. Here are Some Top Policy Items. “Biden hopes to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, which provides health care for millions of Americans….He says Americans can maintain private insurance, but a public option will also be available, particularly benefiting Americans who couldn’t access Medicaid because they live in the dozen states that didn’t allow them to do so under the ACA. Biden has said he would raise the subsidies people can use to help them buy coverage through ACA marketplaces. He says no family will have to spend more than 8.5% of their earnings on health coverage because of refundable tax credits for their premiums.” [USA Today, 1/6/21

Roll Call: Democrats Aim to Move Health Care Agenda Despite Slim Majorities. “Democrats’ priorities are unlikely to change significantly from recent years. House Democrats passed legislation last year to expand the size of premium tax credits to help people afford their monthly health insurance exchange premiums, as well as to allow Medicare to negotiate prices for some prescription drugs. That could serve as a starting point for health care legislation.” [Roll Call, 1/7/21

Morning Consult: Medicaid, Obamacare Expected to Top Democrats’ Early Health Agenda, Former Aides and Policy Analysts Say. “President-elect Joe Biden’s narrow path to enact health care legislation in the next two years got a little bit wider this week. Democrats are set to take control of Congress and the White House for the first time since 2011, and while COVID-19 is expected to dominate their agenda early on, lawmakers could take their first stabs at longtime priorities like expanding health coverage and lowering costs in the new year.” [Morning Consult, 1/8/21

Health Care Pushed Warnock and Ossoff to Historic Victories

Georgia Senators-Elect Made Health Care a Key Priority in the Closing Days of Their Campaigns 

On January 5, 2021, Georgians elected Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate, delivering a majority to Democrats. Both Warnock and Ossoff ran and won on health care. Ossoff and Warnock support President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda to lower costs, expand coverage, and defend the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Polling shows that health care has been a top issue for Georgia voters, and Warnock and Ossoff made health care a centerpiece of their messages throughout their campaigns was key to their victories.

Warnock and Ossoff Made Health Care a Key Issue in Their Races

Jon Ossoff’s Top Policy Objective Was “Great Health Care For Every American.” “I am fighting for great health care for every American with a strong Public Option and strengthened Affordable Care Act, to defend Medicare and Social Security, for historic investment in clean energy and infrastructure, to lower taxes for working families and small businesses, to defend Roe v. Wade and the privacy of women’s health care, to enact major criminal justice reform, to get dark money out of politics and end Citizens United.” [Jon Ossoff for Senate, accessed 1/6/21

In The Senate Raphael Warnock Will “Focus On Fighting For Quality, Affordable Health Care.” “As Senator, Reverend Warnock will bring to Washington the concerns of struggling Georgia families who wonder why no one is looking out for them. He will focus on fighting for quality, affordable health care, for the dignity of working people who are paid too little as our government works more for Wall Street, and to make sure every voice is heard.” [Warnock for Georgia, accessed 1/6/21

Warnock Emphasized Health Care Throughout The Runoff Campaign. “Warnock has put an emphasis on health care during his campaign. When the Affordable Care Act was being debated, Warnock said he was preaching about the need for health care from his pulpit because he saw it as a ‘moral scandal that the richest nation on the planet’ couldn’t find a way to get health care to all of its citizens. He said the pandemic has showed us how important it is for everyone to have health care coverage. ‘A global pandemic and an airborne deadly disease is teaching us something we already should have known — that if my neighbor coughs, that could potentially leave me in peril,’ Warnock said. ‘That doesn’t make my neighbor my enemy. That just means my neighbor’s destiny and mine are inextricably connected. My neighbor may be uncovered, but I’m unprotected. The pandemic has taught us that we are as connected to one another as a cough.’” [Brunswick News, 1/4/21

Biden Ad: “I Need Raphael Warnock And Jon Ossoff In The United States Senate” To Fight The Pandemic. “President-elect Joe Biden cut an ad for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock that ties the twin runoff races for control of the U.S. Senate directly to the fate of his plan to contain the coronavirus pandemic and juice the economy. The minute-long ad released Thursday outlines Biden’s plan to boost the public health response from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ensure free testing and vaccination for every American and pump financial relief into small businesses. ‘Let me be clear, I need Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the United States Senate to get this done,’ he said of the Jan. 5 runoffs. ‘There are folks in Congress threatening to do everything in their power to block our efforts. We need you to get out there and vote for Jon Ossoff, as well as Raphael Warnock. We need them in the Senate.’” [Atlanta Journal Constitution, 12/17/20

Warnock and Ossoff Emphasized Health Care During Final Push Before the Election

Warnock GOTV Message: Get Ready For Affordable Health Care” “Well, call everybody you know and tell them to get up, get dressed, put your shoes on, get ready for affordable health care. Get ready for a livable wage. Get ready to reclaim our democracy and reclaim the future for all of our children. God bless you. Let’s win the future.” [Raphael Warnock, Rally, 1/4/21

Ossoff GOTV Message: “We Are Building A Movement Based On Love, For Health, Jobs, And Justice.” “We are building a movement based on love, for health, jobs and justice for the people. Health, jobs and justice for all the people, Atlanta. Let’s talk about health for a moment. 300,000 Americans killed by this virus, our hospital systems, our nursing homes buckling under the weight of this pandemic. So many who have lost so much. Loved ones buried, loved ones who have lost their lives unable to see or touch their loved ones as they pass. A government that has lied to us every step of the way. We can beat COVID-19, Atlanta. We can pass legislation to rush resources to hospitals and nursing homes. We can make sure every American gets access to testing and vaccines free of charge. We can beat COVID-19 and get our daily lives back. And do you believe, like I do, Atlanta, and like Reverend Warnock does, that healthcare is a human right? Health care is a human right, and not just a privilege for those who have enough money in their bank accounts or who live in the right zip code.” [Jon Ossoff, Rally, 1/4/21

  • Ossoff: “We Will Ensure That Every Single American Has Great Health Insurance, No Matter Their Ability To Pay, Whether They Have A Preexisting Condition, Suffering From Asthma, Or Diabetes, Or A Cancer Survivor.” “We will stand up to the drug companies who are ripping off Georgia families at the pharmacy every single day, charging outrageous prices for lifesaving medicine and insulin. We will ensure that every single American has great health insurance, no matter their ability to pay, whether they have a preexisting condition, suffering from asthma, or diabetes, or a cancer survivor, because Georgia, healthcare is a human right, and we will make it so in the United States of America.” [Jon Ossoff, Rally, 1/4/21

Ossoff’s Closing Ad: “We Demand Health Care No Matter Our Wealth.” “Senate candidate Jon Ossoff’s closing TV argument is a call to action centered on Black voters’ struggles with injustice and the coronavirus pandemic as he makes his final pitch in the last week of the runoff campaign. The 30-second spot, ‘We the people,’ includes flashbacks to the stories of five Black Georgians his campaign featured in earlier ads, which highlight how the pandemic has disproportionately sickened African-American families and invoke demonstrations demanding racial justice and equality. The ad released Wednesday doesn’t mention Ossoff’s rival, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, or other Republican figures involved in the Jan. 5 runoffs for control of the Senate. Instead, it outlines far-reaching policies he and Raphael Warnock say they’ll achieve if Perdue and U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler are defeated. ‘We the people. We demand healthcare no matter our wealth. We the people demand justice no matter the color of our skin. We the people demand immediate financial relief when so many can’t afford rent, gas or childcare,’ Ossoff said.” [Atlanta Journal Constitution, 12/30/20

Warnock and Ossoff Will Fight for Biden’s Bold Health Care Agenda in the Senate

Ossoff Victory Speech: “This Campaign Has Been About Health And Jobs And Justice For The People Of This State.” “This campaign has been about health and jobs and justice for the people of this state — for all the people of this state. And they will be my guiding principles, as I serve this state in the U.S. Senate, ensuring that every Georgian has great health care, no matter our wealth, ensuring that we invest in an economic recovery that includes all communities, that rebuilds our state’s infrastructure, that lays the foundations for prosperity in rural Georgia, suburban communities, and urban communities alike, and securing equal justice for all, following in the footsteps of leaders who have departed us in this last year like Congressman John Lewis and C.T. Vivian.” [Jon Ossoff Victory Speech, 1/6/21

Warnock Pledged To “Beat This Pandemic With Science” And Fight For “Essential Benefits” In His Victory Speech. “I know we can beat this pandemic with science and common sense. I know we can rebuild a fairer economy by respecting the dignity of work and the workers who do it. An economy that honors those whom we now call essential workers by paying them an essential wage, providing them essential benefits. I know we can move closer to justice with empathy and understanding, passion and purpose. To everyone out there struggling today—whether you voted for me or not—know this: I see you. I hear you. And I will fight for you. I will fight for your family.” [Raphael Warnock Victory Speech, 1/5/21

Warnock, Ossoff Ran and Won on Health Care and Now Americans Are in Store for a Bold Health Care Agenda

With Majority Control of Congress and the White House, Democrats Poised to Pass Bold Measures to Expand Coverage, Lower Costs and End the Pandemic

Washington, DC — With Democratic victories in both Georgia Senate races last night delivering a Democratic majority in the Senate, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement: 

“Georgians elected Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff because they are health care champions who will help President-elect Biden and House Democrats enact a bold agenda to ensure everyone has access to quality, affordable health care and to end the coronavirus pandemic.

“This race was run and won on health care, just like Democratic victories in Senate races in Arizona and Colorado in November, just like capturing the House in 2018 and holding it in 2020 and just like President-elect Biden’s victory over President Trump. President Trump’s first act as president was to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, and, politically, it’s been all downhill for Republicans ever since. In 2017, they lost the repeal fight and two gubernatorial races over health care and Medicaid expansion. In 2019, they lost gubernatorial races in Louisiana and in Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky over Medicaid expansion. They’ve been on the losing side of ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid all over the country. They lost the House, the presidency and now the Senate all because of their unbridled zeal to deny people access to affordable health care, rip away protections for 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and their failure to address the pandemic.

“Democrats recaptured the political high ground on health care long ago, and by winning the Senate majority last night, they now have a clear mandate to reverse four years of Trump’s sabotage and to enact a health care agenda. Under President-elect Biden’s leadership, the Democrats will build on the ACA to expand coverage, lower costs for prescription drugs, address racial inequities in health care and end the pandemic. As President-elect Biden might say, that’s a big effing deal.”