Monthly Archives

April 2021

Protect Our Care Marks Medicaid Awareness Month With Nationwide Events, Highlighting Need for Medicaid Expansion and Accountability for GOP Holdout States

April is Medicaid Awareness Month, and Protect Our Care hosted nationwide events to recognize the crucial role Medicaid plays in Americans’ health care and highlight recent efforts to expand Medicaid programs in the states that have yet to enact expansion. Protect Our Care was joined by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), U.S. Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Gwen Moore (D-WI-04), Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes (D-WI), as well as other local elected officials, storytellers, and health care advocates in Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

During Medicaid Awareness Month, Protect Our Care also launched a campaign to push the Republican governors and state legislators in the 14 holdout states to accept the additional funds now available to them through the American Rescue Plan to expand Medicaid. POC released a series of reports including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas. The campaign — featuring a website and digital ads — will also hold Republicans in Congress accountable for their votes against the American Rescue Plan and their efforts to sabotage Medicaid at every turn. 

Throughout the month, Protect Our Care also released a series of reports on how Medicaid is a lifeline for children and families, communities of color, people with disabilities, seniors and older adults, and women.

Here’s a look at the activities and some of the news coverage that took place over Medicaid Awareness Month:

ALASKA
Wednesday, April 5, 2021 — Medicaid Awareness Month Virtual Event with State Rep. Spohnholz, Alaska Children’s Trust, and Advocates: Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, Alaska Children’s Trust CEO and Executive Director Trevor Storrs and advocates Erin Kirkland and Carolyn Savina Allen, joined Protect Our Care Alaska for a virtual press conference to discuss how the American Rescue Plan strengthens Medicaid in Alaska, and highlight the critical role the program plays in providing health care in the state, especially Alaska’s children. “The Affordable Care Act pays for Alaskans who were covered by Medicaid Expansion at a 90/10 match. That’s the same match as those federal transportation dollars that we love to bring home to the state of Alaska,” said State Rep. Ivy Spohnholz. “Medicaid Expansion has brought in $2.2 billion to our economy at a time when we really needed that. Those dollars are fueling good, high-paying jobs in the health care sector that employees 15% of Alaskans.” You can watch the event here.

FLORIDA
Friday, April 16, 2021 — Virtual Medicaid Awareness/ARP Postpartum Extension Event with State Rep. Kamia Brown, Florida Voices for Health, FL Health Justice Project, and Advocates: State Rep. Kamia Brown, Florida Health Justice Project, Southern Birth Justice Network, Florida Voices for Health and maternal health storytellers joined Protect Our Care Florida for a virtual Zoom event to call on the Senate to sign onto the postpartum Medicaid extension recently passed through a budgetary bill by the Florida House of Representatives. This provision comes at a time when the federal government is offering new incentives for states like Florida to expand their Medicaid programs through the American Rescue Plan. “I’d like to again express my admiration for the Legislature in voting to pass a measure in the budget that would fund Medicaid extension for new mothers, up from 2 months to 12 months,” said State Rep. Kamia Brown (HD-45). “This is a measure I’ve worked hard for years to pass into law, on an issue that is near and dear to my heart; if passed, it would ensue that we have greater health equity and less healthcare disparities in Florida for tens of thousands of black and brown mamas across the state. You can watch the event here.

Coverage
WMFE (NPR Orlando): Health Advocates In Florida Renew Call For Postpartum Medicaid Extension
WFTV (ABC Orlando): Local Leaders and Advocates Call on State Senate to Pass Medicaid Coverage for New Mothers
WFTV (ABC Orlando): Local Leaders and Advocates Call on State Senate to Pass Medicaid Coverage for New Mothers
WFTV (ABC Orlando): Local Leaders and Advocates Call on State Senate to Pass Medicaid Coverage for New Mothers
WFTV (ABC Orlando): Local Leaders and Advocates Call on State Senate to Pass Medicaid Coverage for New Mothers
WMFE (NPR Orlando): Florida Lawmakers Negotiating Budget
WJCT (NPR Jacksonville): Florida Legislature in Final Stages of Negotiating Budget
WLRN (NPR Miami): Florida Legislature in Final Stages of Negotiating Budget

GEORGIA
Wednesday, April 14, 2021 — Medicaid Awareness Month Virtual Event with Georgia Healthcare Experts: Georgians for a Health Future, small business, faith, and health Advocates joined Protect Our Care Georgia for a virtual press conference to call on elected officials to pass Medicaid expansion. As calls for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to quickly formally disapprove of Georgia’s 1115 waiver continue, Georgia’s health care advocates are urging state leaders to drop costly legal battles and pass full Medicaid expansion. Laura Colbert, Executive Director at Georgians for a Healthy Future, described Medicaid expansion as a deal too good to pass up. “It has proven very successful in the other thirty eight states that have adopted it. Medicaid expansion improves health outcomes for adults, improves maternal and infant health, produces budget savings for states and reduces racial health inequities. Over 400 studies have been done that support these facts. The numbers speak for themselves and it’s time for our state to act,” Colbert said. You can watch the event here.

MAINE
Monday, April 12, 2021 — Medicaid Press Call with State Legislators and Advocates: State. Rep. Thom Harnett, Maine Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services, Maine Equal Justice, and Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care joined Protect Our Care Maine for a press call to discuss how the American Rescue Plan strengthens Medicaid in Maine, and to highlight the critical role the program plays in providing health care in the state, including Mainers struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers called for greater federal support for Medicaid and its critical measures that help communities of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, indigenous communities, Mainers with disabilities, seniors, women and children all access care. State Rep. Harnett stressed, “it is crystal clear that Medicaid is vital to ensuring access to quality, affordable care, especially for communities of color. It is beyond time for Republicans to stop playing politics with their constituents’ health. By refusing to expand Medicaid in their states, Republicans are denying insurance to their most vulnerable populations. The American Rescue Plan gives holdout states yet another opportunity to do the right thing.” You can listen to an audio recording here.

NORTH CAROLINA
Tuesday, April 13, 2021 — Medicaid Awareness Month Virtual Event with State Rep. Linda Cooper-Sugggs, North Carolina Justice Center and Advocates: North Carolina leaders and health care advocates including Rep. Linda Cooper-Suggs and the North Carolina Justice Center joined Protect Our Care North Carolina for a virtual press conference to call on the North Carolina General Assembly to pass Medicaid expansion in the state. “The amount of money that would come into North Carolina from the American Rescue Plan’s incentives at the same time that we could save lives by covering more North Carolinians…what other choice do we have but to expand Medicaid?” said State Rep. Linda-Cooper Suggs. “This is an issue that’s personal to my family and my community,” said Matt Leatherman, whose daughter relies on Medicaid for coverage. “Expanding Medicaid is the evidently correct thing, both morally and fiscally.” You can watch the event here.

OHIO
Thursday, April 15, 2021 — Medicaid Awareness Month Virtual Event with U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), State Rep. Crawley and Advocates: Rep. Tim Ryan, State Rep. Eric Crawley and advocates joined Protect Our Care Ohio for a virtual press conference to discuss how the American Rescue Plan (ARP) strengthens Medicaid, including enhancements to postpartum care for Ohio women enrolled in Medicaid. Speakers also discussed the “Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021,” which would build on the ARP. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan spoke about Democrats’ efforts to protect access to cost-effective coverage. “The American Rescue Plan secures coverage for more than 7 million additional Americans under the current law, but I am not stopping there, we must continue to work to shore up care for those who have been underserved in the past,” Ryan said. Kelsey Hopkins, Policy Associate at Groundwork Ohio, added, “Medicaid eligible pregnant women should be eligible for 12-month continuous postpartum coverage as included in the American Rescue Plan. It is a powerful tool in preventing infant and maternal mortality and morbidity.” You can watch the event here.

Coverage
WFMJ (NBC Youngstown): Rep. Tim Ryan and Advocates Discuss Medicaid Expansion and ARP Postpartum Provisions

WEST VIRGINIA
Wednesday, April 14, 2021 — Medicaid Awareness Month Virtual Event with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, Planned Parenthood, Social Workers, and Advocates: Health care advocates joined Protect Our Care, WV for a virtual press conference to discuss how the American Rescue Plan strengthens Medicaid in West Virginia, and highlight the critical role the program plays in providing health care in the state, including those struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers also called out Senator Shelley Moore Capito, as well as Congressmen David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Congresswoman Carol Miller, for voting against the American Rescue Plan and its important Medicaid measures that help children, seniors, and West Virginians with disabilities access care. “The American Rescue Plan shows people that someone has their back by making health care more affordable, and providing support for the hard job of childcare and child rearing,” said Sam Hickman, Director of the West Virginia chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. “West Virginia was already seeing more people sign up for care under expanded Medicaid, without about 30,000 more people becoming eligible,” Hickman said, pointing out that with the resources included in the American Rescue Plan, even more West Virginians have access to care.” You can watch the event here.

Coverage
Public News Service: WV Bill, American Rescue Plan Bolster Medicaid for Mountaineers

WISCONSIN
Tuesday, April 6, 2021 — Medicaid Awareness Month Virtual Event with U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI-04), Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, Wisconsin State Officials, and Advocates: Congresswoman Gwen Moore joined Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Protect Our Care for a virtual press event, along with Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, State Representative Sara Rodriguez, and a school nurse, to call on the Wisconsin Legislature to pass BadgerCare expansion in the state budget. The event is part of Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s ongoing Week of Action in support of health care investments in the state budget and is part of Protect Our Care’s recognition of April as Medicaid Awareness Month. U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore underscored the fiscal implications for the state of Wisconsin if Republicans once again refuse to expand Badgercare, citing the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s analysis that continued obstruction would cost the state more than $1.6 billion over just the next two years. “Here’s your opportunity to run government like a business,” she noted, “Instead, you’re leaving billions of dollars on the table.” You can watch the event here.

Thursday, April 8, 2021 — Medicaid Awareness Month Virtual Event with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Advocates: U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin headlined a virtual media event hosted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Protect Our Care Wisconsin calling on Republicans to pass Medicaid expansion in the state. State Representative Jodi Emerson, a retired Wisconsin pediatrician, and home healthcare provider all joined the event to speak about the benefit of expanding Badgercare. In her remarks, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin reminded viewers of the toll the pandemic has taken on so many families, noting the historic job loss and associated impacts of the employer based coverage system that defines American health care. “People in Wisconsin must have quality, affordable health care coverage during and after this crisis,” Baldwin said. “Wisconsin needs to accept the federal investment in Badgercare now.” You can watch the event here.

Coverage
WFRV (CBS Green Bay): Senator Baldwin Is Calling for Medicaid Expansion
WFRV (CBS Green Bay): Expanding Badgercare Debate
WFRV (CBS Green Bay): Calls to Expand Medicaid
WFRV (CBS Green Bay): Calls to Expand Medicaid
WFRV (CBS Green Bay): Calls to Expand Medicaid
WFRV (CBS Green Bay): Calls to Expand Medicaid
WisPolitics: U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and State Rep. Jodi Emerson Slammed State Republican Lawmakers While Advocating for Medicaid Expansion

Medicaid Works For Women

April is Medicaid Awareness Month. For decades, Medicaid has been a major source of coverage for women and, now, it is serving as a critical safety net as millions of women have lost their jobs or left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Women make up the majority of adult Medicaid enrollees, as they are more likely to have low-incomes or qualify based on their parenting status. Women — and especially women of color — have been disproportionately impacted by pandemic-related job losses, suggesting they have lost employer-sponsored health coverage at higher rates. But experts say an overwhelming majority of people who have lost coverage have been able to get covered under Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

Despite former President Donald Trump’s years-long war on Medicaid, the program is now stronger than ever. President Biden has already started to reverse many of Trump’s harmful Medicaid policies, and he is working to strengthen the program through the American Rescue Plan, the most significant health care expansion in a decade. In addition to providing affordable coverage options for millions of uninsured Americans through the ACA, the American Rescue Plan provides robust financial incentives for the 14 states that have not yet implemented Medicaid expansion. The law also extends Medicaid coverage to new mothers one year postpartum. Protect Our Care recently released a report detailing the impact of the American Rescue Plan on women’s lives.  

Republican Efforts To Block Medicaid Expansion Hurt Women 

The ACA and its expansion of Medicaid helped millions of women gain coverage and access to health care. Research confirms that Medicaid expansion increases access to care, improves financial security, and leads to better health outcomes. A growing body of evidence shows that the expansion of Medicaid has saved lives. Despite the overwhelming benefits of Medicaid expansion, Republicans have spent years undermining the ACA and its expansion of Medicaid at every turn, blocking millions from coverage. 

In 2019, 11 of the 19 states with women’s uninsured rates above the national average had not adopted Medicaid expansion. By rejecting expansion, these states are worsening the maternal health crisis and limiting health care access for the women who need it most. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation: “Uninsured women often have inadequate access to care, get a lower standard of care when they are in the health system, and have poorer health outcomes. Compared to women with insurance, uninsured women have lower use of important preventive services such as mammograms, Pap tests, and timely blood pressure checks.”

Medicaid Is The Largest Payer Of Reproductive Health Care Coverage. Medicaid covers about one in five women of reproductive age, giving them access to reproductive health care services such as birth control, cancer screenings, and maternity care without cost-sharing. Medicaid accounts for 75 percent of all public expenditures on family planning services.

  • Medicaid Is The Largest Single Payer Of Pregnancy-Related Services. Federal law requires that Medicaid cover pregnancy-related services and postpartum care to women with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level. Many states have expanded these guidelines. 
  • Medicaid Covers Almost Half Of All Births In The United States. Medicaid is a vital source of coverage for new mothers; it covered 43% of all births in the United States in 2016, and it helps nearly half of all pregnant women access prenatal care and child delivery services. 
  • Medicaid Expansion Improved Access To Primary Care & Family Planning. Two studies from Michigan showed that Medicaid expansion doubled low-income patients’ access to primary care, and that enrollees experienced improved access to birth control and family planning. 

Medicaid Improves Access To Care For Women. Women with Medicaid are far more likely to receive care than uninsured women. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, women with Medicaid coverage are less likely than women with private insurance to report delaying forgoing care due to cost. Women with Medicaid coverage receive preventive care at roughly the same rates as women with private coverage. 

Medicaid Helps Pay For Long-Term Care, Mostly For Elderly Women. Medicaid pays for roughly half of the nation’s long-term services and supports. Women account for 60 percent of the 11.7 million dual-eligibles, or people who rely on both Medicare and Medicaid for coverage. Most dual-eligibles are elderly, and many need Medicaid coverage for their long-term care needs. Medicaid nearly 40 percent of Latina and African American women over 65 who are also covered by Medicare.

Medicaid Creates Jobs In The Health Industry, Which Employs Nearly 23% Of All Women In The American Workforce. According to the National Women’s Law Center, “Women’s high participation in the health care industry, which employs more than 22.8% of all women in the workforce, means that Medicaid disproportionately creates jobs for women. This is especially true because Medicaid covers services that other payors typically do not cover and are more likely to be delivered by women, like long-term services and supports.”

The ACA’s Medicaid Expansion Improves Maternal Health. Research from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families found that Medicaid expansion has helped fill gaps in maternal health coverage, leading to healthier mothers and babies. It also helps new mothers maintain access to coverage and important postpartum care after giving birth. Multiple studies draw the connection between Medicaid expansion and reduced infant and maternal mortality rates. One study found that reductions in maternal mortality in expansion states were concentrated among Black mothers, “suggesting that expansion could be contributing to decreasing racial disparities in maternal mortality.” 

President Biden Shows His Commitment to Health Care in His First 100 Days

Washington, DC — As the nation marks Joe Biden’s 100th day as president, in that time, he has shown health care is a top priority for his administration. Since taking office, President Biden has taken swift action on his health care promises by working to contain the coronavirus pandemic, opening up a special enrollment period so people can get insured, removing burdensome barriers to enrolling in Medicaid, and including historic health care provisions in the American Rescue Plan that expand coverage, lower costs, and address racial disparities in our health care system. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“Joe Biden is a health care president. President Biden’s health care promises were central to voters electing him, and he is working to deliver on those promises. In his first 100 days, President Biden and Democrats in Congress passed the American Rescue Plan to help pull our country out of the pandemic by putting money in pockets and shots in arms. The American Rescue Plan also included historic health care provisions to expand coverage, make health care more affordable, and address the longstanding racial inequities in our health care system laid bare by the pandemic. 

“President Biden opened a special enrollment period that has helped more than 800,000 Americans get covered, removed barriers to enrolling in Medicaid, and reversed the Trump administration’s dangerous position trying to invalidate the ACA. This is a stark contrast from the past four years of Republican sabotage on health care. 

“Of course, there is still more work to be done. President Biden laid out his priorities in his speech before Congress, including giving Americans relief from skyrocketing prescription drug prices and making the health care provisions included in the American Rescue Plan to be permanent. It’s clear President Biden and Democrats in Congress remain committed to creating meaningful health care reform that will improve Americans’ lives.”

BACKGROUND:

100 Days In: Joe Biden’s Health Care Presidency

The American Rescue Plan

On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, historic legislation that includes measures to expand coverage and to dramatically lower health care costs for millions of Americans. The American Rescue plan: 

  • Lowers health care costs for millions by increasing financial assistance in the exchanges for the next two years and making financial assistance more widely available to middle class families, ensuring people purchasing coverage on the ACA marketplaces do pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for coverage. In addition to lowering costs for the nine million people currently receiving financial assistance on the marketplace, the American Rescue Plan makes generous subsidies available to 14.9 million uninsured people, according to estimates from the Biden administration. Experts say as many as 25 million Americans could benefit from these provisions. 
    • Uninsured couples earning more than $70,000 will save $1,000 per month on premiums. 
    • A family of four earning $90,000 will save $200 per month.
    • An individual making $19,000 will not have to pay a monthly premium, saving roughly $66 per month on average.
  • Expands coverage by providing robust financial incentives for the 14 states that have not yet implemented Medicaid expansion. Even after paying for the cost of expansion, these states could receive billions in additional funding that could be used to offset spending in other state programs or budget shortfalls. The Urban Institute estimates that more than 6 million people could enroll in Medicaid coverage if the remaining states implemented expansion. This includes at least 2.4 million people of color, 500,000 people with disabilities and almost a million older Americans who are currently uninsured. 
  • Increases vaccine distribution by investing $160 billion in direct COVID-19 response, including ramping up vaccination efforts, boosting testing, shoring up supplies of PPE, expanding sequencing and analytics efforts, and hiring 100,000 public health workers. This much needed funding will make sure more Americans are able to get vaccinated more quickly, which is key to getting the pandemic under control. Already, more than 230 million doses have been administered — more than doubling the President’s original goal of 100 million shots in 100 days. Roughly 96 million Americans have been fully vaccinated. 
  • Strengthens health care in vulnerable communities by providing health services for underserved populations, including expanding Community Health Centers and investing in health services on tribal lands. These funds will support the expansion of COVID-19 treatment and care as well as provide the vaccine to underserved populations.

Increasing Health Care Access & Prioritizing Health Care Equity 

  • President Biden reopened HealthCare.gov for a special enrollment period to help Americans gain coverage as they continue to suffer from the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. More than 528,000 Americans signed up for insurance through the ACA Marketplace during the first six weeks of the special enrollment period, and 17 percent of sign-ups came from Black Americans. 
  • The Biden administration is investing $50 million in marketing and education efforts during the special enrollment period to reach groups that have historically experienced lower access to health coverage and greater disparities in health outcomes. The administration is also providing a record $80 million in Navigator funding for the 2022 plan year to further boost enrollment.
  • In order to address racial disparities in coverage rates, the administration has re-engaged with partner organizations, such as the NAACP, UnidosUS, and AARP to ensure Black and Latino Americans in particular are able to enroll. 
  • President Biden established a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force to mitigate the health disparities revealed and exacerbated by the pandemic. 
  • President Biden directed federal agencies to consider actions to strengthen and protect access to health care. 

Reversing Trump Sabotage

  • The Biden administration announced it will defend the Affordable Care Act in California v. Texas, the lawsuit before the Supreme Court to completely dismantle the law. This move reverses the Trump administration’s support for ripping away coverage from more than 20 million Americans and protections for 135 million people with pre-existing conditions.
  • President Biden directed federal agencies to re-examine policies that undermine the ACA and Medicaid. These policies include:
  • Policies that undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including COVID-19
  • ACA and Medicaid waivers that could reduce enrollment, including Medicaid work requirements and block grants 
  • Policies that undermine the ACA Marketplace, like Georgia’s waiver request to pull out of HealthCare.gov with no state-based replacement 
  • Policies that make it more difficult to enroll in the ACA or Medicaid
  • Policies that reduce coverage affordability or limit financial assistance
  • The Biden administration sent letters to states signaling it would end Trump’s disastrous work requirements program. So far, the Biden administration has rescinded permissions for work requirements programs in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and New Hampshire. The Biden administration also put on hold Georgia’s limited Medicaid expansion waiver that required recipients to work, which was previously approved by the Trump administration.
  • The Biden administration began rolling back Trump’s gag rule that barred family planning providers from mentioning abortion to patients in order to receive Title X funding. Trump’s rule forced more than 1,000 clinics to leave the program and reduced the provider capacity of the Title X network by nearly half. The Biden administration’s rule will restore essential funding back to these providers, like Planned Parenthood, which offer essential health care services to low-income patients, including STI screenings and contraception. 
  • The Biden administration is reviewing Trump’s expansion of association health plans, which can skirt the ACA’s important protections. 
  • The Biden administration rescinded Trump’s public charge rule, which effectively served as a wealth test for people seeking residency in the United States. Experts point to Trump’s immigration policies, such as the public charge rule, for having deterred many Latino families from obtaining insurance, resulting in steep coverage losses, especially for children.

Between Commitments in President Biden’s Speech, Moves on Capitol Hill, Health Care Is Once Again a Top Priority

Washington, DC — Tonight, at an address before a joint session of Congress, President Biden shared bold proposals to expand coverage and lower health care and drug costs for millions of Americans. Meanwhile, there have been significant moves on Capitol Hill, including Speaker Pelosi’s reintroduction of legislation (H.R. 3) to lower prescription drug costs. These actions show that health care is once again a top priority just as it remains at the top of issues Americans want Congress to address. And all this comes on the heels of months of progress on health care from Democrats and President Biden, including beginning to roll back the Trump administration’s sabotage of the ACA, opening a special enrollment period that has helped more than 800,000 Americans get covered, and passing the American Rescue Plan which lowers premiums and expands coverage to millions of Americans – a provision President Biden pledged to make permanent tonight. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“Tonight, President Biden outlined bold proposals to further expand coverage and keep premium costs low for millions of Americans who buy insurance on their own and to lower the high cost of prescription drugs by giving Medicare the power to negotiate with drug companies. At the same time, Speaker Pelosi has reintroduced historic legislation to lower the high cost of drugs by giving Medicare the power to negotiate, and a broad array of House and Senate Democrats have proposed enhancements to Medicare.

“Health care is once again a top priority, which is only appropriate as it has consistently been the number one issue Americans want Congress to address, with the high cost of prescription drugs topping the list of health care priorities.

“In election after election, Democrats have run on expanding coverage and lowering the cost of health care premiums and prescription drugs, and voters gave Democrats control of Congress and the White House. Now it’s time for Democrats to deliver on a once in a generation opportunity to make health care more affordable and accessible for millions of Americans.”

President Biden’s American Families Plan Puts Health Care First

Washington, DC — The American Families Plan builds on the historic health care gains of the American Rescue Plan by making its dramatic reduction in health insurance premiums permanent. President Biden has a plan to give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices, a move that will also benefit Americans not on Medicare. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“The American Families Plan makes crystal clear that Joe Biden is a health care president. This plan builds on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act and the American Rescue Plan to create a better and healthier America. President Biden, Democrats in Congress and a strong bipartisan majority of the American people support these policies and expect them to be enacted. Making premium reductions permanent, reducing drug prices by giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower prices, closing the Medicaid coverage gap, and lowering the eligibility age of Medicare are historic improvements to America’s health care.”

Medicaid Works For Seniors & Older Adults

April is Medicaid Awareness Month, and Medicaid is a lifeline for millions of seniors and older adults. More than 7.2 million American seniors and 8.5 million adults aged 50 to 64 have Medicaid coverage. The Medicaid program funds 53 percent of long-term care nationwide, providing critical support for America’s seniors relying on home care to meet their daily needs and for those living in nursing homes. And as the country continues to face the devastating health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Medicaid has played an important role in preventing widespread coverage losses.

Former President Trump spent years sabotaging the Medicaid program, even as millions of seniors and older adults relied on this program for essential care. Now, President Biden is reversing course by signing the American Rescue Plan into law, historic legislation that includes the most significant health care expansion in a decade. The American Rescue Plan provides additional financial incentives for the 14 states that have not yet implemented Medicaid expansion. If the remaining states expanded Medicaid, an estimated 926,000 older adults would gain coverage.

Republican Efforts To Block Medicaid Expansion Limits Health Care Access For Older Adults

Eleven years ago, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) opened the door for states to expand Medicaid, and the results are piling in: Medicaid expansion works. In addition to covering 15 million people, expansion has resulted in healthier people, communities, and economies. 

Study after study shows that Medicaid expansion increases access to care, improves financial security, and leads to better health outcomes. The program has increased access to lifesaving cancer screenings, improved infant and maternal health, and increased access to substance abuse treatment — and the list goes on. A growing body of evidence shows that expanding Medicaid has saved lives. Nearly one million older adults are being shut out of Medicaid coverage as a result of Republican efforts to block expansion.

At Least 15,600 Older Adults Died Prematurely As A Result Of States’ Decision Not To Expand Medicaid. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Medicaid expansion saved the lives of 19,200 older adults aged 55 to 64 between 2014 and 2017. At the same time,15,600 older adults died prematurely as a result of their states’ decision not to expand the program.

Medicaid Expansion Helps Americans Near Retirement Access Health Care. According to the Center for Retirement Research, after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the share of older adults without insurance declined as Medicaid enrollment grew: “The share of Americans ages 50-64 without insurance fell by 6.4 percentage points between 2012 (pre-ACA reforms) and 2016 – from 15.5 percent to 9.1 percent – due at least in part to increased Medicaid enrollment in the expansion states.” 

Medicaid Expansion Helps Older Adults Gain Access To Care Without Having To Wait On A Disability Determination. Medicaid expansion helps older adults with disabilities gain quicker access to coverage without waiting for a disability determination, which can take years

Medicaid Expansion Reduces Out-Of-Pocket Health Care Spending, Which Is Especially Important For Older Adults With Limited Incomes. According to the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, between 2010 and 2015, the average out-of-pocket spending decreased in states that expanded Medicaid and increased in non-expansion states. Less than half of American adults ages 55 to 64 work. Some are retired, and for many others, chronic health conditions make it difficult to maintain steady employment.

Medicaid Is A Vital Source Of Care For Seniors, Including Those Who Also Have Medicare

Seniors And Older Adults Depend On Medicaid For Affordable, Comprehensive Care. “All state Medicaid programs cover hospital stays, doctor visits, labs, x-rays, nursing homes, home health care, and help with Medicare out-of-pocket costs.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, June 2017]

Medicaid Fills Gaps In Coverage For One In Five Medicare Beneficiaries. “Medicaid can cover transportation to the doctor and vision care, along with other important services that Medicare doesn’t usually cover.  Seniors can also get services through Medicaid that Medicare covers to a lesser extent, such as home health care, durable medical equipment, mental health and therapy services, and some dental services.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 1/19/18]

Low-Income Seniors With Medicare Depend On Medicaid For Long-Term Care. “Without Medicaid, these low-income seniors would be unable to afford their health and long-term care costs, even with Medicare.” [National Council on Aging, 2/21/17]

Medicaid Is One Of The Most Effective Anti-Poverty Programs. “Medicaid reduced the health inclusive poverty measure by 3.8 percentage points. This is comparable to the combined effect of all social insurance programs and greater than the effects of non-health means tested benefits and refundable tax credits.” [Georgetown Center for Children and Families, 3/8/18

People Who Need Long-Term Care Depend On Medicaid

Medicaid Provides Half Of Long-Term Care In The U.S. “Medicaid provides half the nation’s long-term care. Over the decades, states, CMS, providers and consumers have worked to broaden access to care in home and community based settings, where many seniors and people with disabilities would prefer to live…In 2013, the Medicaid program reached a major milestone: for the first time, the majority of Medicaid spending on long term services and supports (LTSS) was for home and community based services (HCBS) rather than for institutional care.” [Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services, January 2017]

Older Americans Depend On Medicaid For Nursing Home Coverage. “A combination of longer life spans and spiraling health care costs has left an estimated 64 percent of the Americans in nursing homes dependent on Medicaid. In Alaska, Mississippi and West Virginia, Medicaid was the primary payer for three-quarters or more of nursing home residents in 2015, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.” [New York Times, 6/24/17]

Rep. Peter Welch, Protect Our Care, Hart Research Discuss New Poll on Urgent Health Care Priorities

New Polling Shows Overwhelming Bipartisan Majority of Voters Want Congress to Address Prescription Drug Prices, Lower Health Care Premiums, and Expanding Medicaid

Watch the Event Here

Washington, DC — Today, U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) joined Protect Our Care and Hart Research President Geoff Garin to discuss newly released polling showing the health care priorities that voters want included in Congress’s next big legislative package. The poll found broad and deep support among voters for addressing skyrocketing prescription drug prices, expanding Medicaid, and reducing the costs of health care premiums. This polling underscores that health care remains a critical kitchen table issue for Americans and voters overwhelmingly trust Democrats to deliver on health care.

“Reining in prescription drug prices is a common sense move to protect Americans from Big Pharma’s price gouging,” said Rep. Peter Welch. “With skyrocketing drug prices squeezing more and more Americans, the time to pass these critical reforms is now. The polling confirms what we know — Americans overwhelmingly support these critical reforms. We have an opportunity now in Congress to finally succeed in lowering drug prices and make the changes we have been advocating for more than a decade.”

“This polling shows that health care remains a top issue for voters,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “President Biden and Democrats in Congress have already taken bold action on health care through the American Rescue Plan by expanding coverage, making insurance more affordable and addressing racial disparities, but there’s still more to be done. Voters want to see action on skyrocketing drug prices, and they want to see it now.”

“Health care continues to be a top priority for voters, and they expect Congress to address the outrageous price of prescription drugs,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “The poll shows Americans need real relief from the skyrocketing price of drugs. That’s why Congress must give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices. Giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices is the single most effective thing we can do to reduce drug prices and help American families afford the prescriptions they need.”

“Lowering the cost of healthcare and expanding affordable health insurance coverage are top-tier priorities for voters. The survey results are crystal clear that putting these issues front and center offers a huge opportunity for President Biden and congressional Democrats to advance an extremely popular agenda that voters across party lines support and care about,” said Hart Research President Geoff Garin. “Democrats have the high side of the debate on these issues and Republicans would oppose a Biden-Democratic healthcare package at their peril.”

PRESS CALL: Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) Joins Protect Our Care and Hart Research to Advocate for Urgent Health Care Priorities

New Polling Shows Overwhelming Bipartisan Majority of Voters Want Congress to Address Prescription Drug Prices, Lower Health Care Premiums and Expanding Medicaid

Washington, DC — On Monday, April 26 at 2:30 PM ET, U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT), Protect Our Care and Hart Research President Geoff Garin will hold a press call to discuss the health care priorities that voters want included in Congress’s next legislative big package. New polling found broad and deep support among voters for addressing skyrocketing prescription drug prices, expanding Medicaid and reducing the costs of health care premiums. This polling underscores that health care remains a critical kitchen table issue for Americans and voters overwhelmingly trust Democrats to deliver on health care.

PRESS CALL:

WHO:
U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT)
Leslie Dach, Chair of Protect Our Care
Brad Woodhouse, Executive Director of Protect Our Care
Geoff Garin, President of Hart Research

WHAT: Press Call About Health Care Priorities Voters Want Urgently Addressed 

WHERE: Register for the Event Here

WHEN: Monday, April 26 at 2:30 PM ET

House Democrats to Reintroduce Bill to Lower Drug Prices, Stand Up to Big Pharma

Washington, DC — According to reports, House Democrats will once again introduce historic legislation to lower prescription drug costs. The bill will give Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices so that every American can pay less for the drugs they need. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“This legislation addresses one of the biggest economic and health concerns Americans face — skyrocketing prescription drug prices. The single most effective way to lower drug prices is to give Medicare the power to negotiate on behalf of all Americans. Americans shouldn’t have to pay three times as much for drugs as people in other countries and shouldn’t have to choose between taking their medicine and buying their groceries. Republicans refused to even allow a vote on this bill on the Senate floor, but now with Democrats in charge of the Senate and the House, and Joe Biden in the White House, Americans can finally get relief from Pharma’s outrageous prices.”

BACKGROUND:

The Time To Act Is Now: Lower Drug Prices For All Americans

Medicaid Is A Lifeline For People With Disabilities

Medicaid is a vital source of care for people with disabilities across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four, or 61 million Americans, have a disability. Research has shown the people with disabilities covered by Medicaid are more likely to receive comprehensive and consistent care than those who are either privately insured or uninsured. The Medicaid program also provides half of all long-term care in the United States, which includes essential home- and community-based services for people with disabilities. Protecting access to Medicaid is essential to ensuring people with disabilities continue to get the care they need.

Despite former President Trump’s war on Medicaid, the program is stronger than ever. Medicaid has served as a critical safety net as millions have lost jobs and their employer-based health insurance. Experts say an overwhelming majority of the people who have lost coverage during the pandemic have been able to get covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or through Medicaid. By November 2020, Medicaid enrollment had grown to an all-time high of 78 million Americans. Unfortunately, however, 14 states have not yet implemented the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, blocking as many as 6 million from coverage. 

President Biden is taking bold steps to strengthen the Medicaid program by signing the American Rescue Plan into law. This historic legislation includes the most significant health care expansion in a decade. Importantly, the American Rescue Plan provides additional financial incentives for the 14 states that have not implemented expansion. If the remaining states expanded Medicaid, an estimated 500,000 people with disabilities could gain coverage. Expanding access to health care is particularly important as millions of Americans have contracted the COVID-19, with some “long haulers” facing the possibility of lifelong disabilities. 

By The Numbers 

  • 61 Million U.S. Adults Have A Disability. 61 million Americans have a disability in the U.S. Thanks to the ACA, insurance companies can no longer deny them coverage, drop their coverage for no reason, or charge them more because of a pre-existing condition. 
  • 8.7 Million Nonelderly Adults With Disabilities Depend On Medicaid For Care. Nearly 8.7 million adults enrolled in Medicaid have a disability. 
  • More Than One In Three Medicaid Enrollees Under 65 Have A Disability. More than 1 in 3 adults under age 65 enrolled in Medicaid lives with at least one disability.
  • 500,000 People Of Color Could Gain Coverage If The Remaining Holdout States Adopted Medicaid Expansion. If Republicans did the right thing and expanded Medicaid in the remaining holdout states, more than 6 million people could enroll in coverage. This includes at least 500,000 people with disabilities. 
  • Nearly 45 Percent Of Adults With Disabilities Have Medicaid Coverage. Medicaid covers 45 percent of nonelderly adults with disabilities, including adults with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, brain injuries, and mental illness.
  • Roughly 1.7 Million Nonelderly People With Disabilities Rely On Medicaid For Long Term Care. In 2011,1.7 million nonelderly people with disabilities relied on Medicaid for long-term care. 80 percent of this group receive community-based care. 

Republican Efforts To Block Medicaid Expansion Limits Health Care Access For People With Disabilities

Eleven years ago, the ACA opened the door for states to expand Medicaid, and the results are piling in: Medicaid expansion works. In addition to covering 15 million people, expansion has resulted in healthier people, communities, and economies. 

Study after study shows that Medicaid expansion increases access to care, improves financial security, and leads to better health outcomes. The program has increased access to lifesaving cancer screenings, improved infant and maternal health, and increased access to substance abuse treatment — and the list goes on. A growing body of evidence shows that expanding Medicaid has saved lives. Roughly half a million people with disabilities are being shut out of Medicaid coverage as a result of Republican efforts to block expansion.

People With Disabilities Rely On Medicaid Expansion For Coverage. Of the 8.7 million disabled adults enrolled in Medicaid, only 43 percent qualify for supplemental security income (SSI). The remaining 5 million beneficiaries do not receive SSI and therefore do not qualify for coverage based on their disability status alone, meaning they rely on the ACA’s Medicaid expansion or eligibility as low-income parents. 

Medicaid Expansion Helps Adults Gain Access To Care Without Having To Wait On A Disability Determination. Medicaid expansion helps adults with disabilities gain quicker access to coverage without waiting for a disability determination, which can take years. Per the Kaiser Family Foundation: “The ACA Medicaid expansion has enabled some people who were not previously eligible for coverage, and otherwise would be uninsured, to gain coverage. Some of these people have conditions that may not rise to the stringent level required to establish SSI eligibility, yet still have an ongoing need for health care services. Others may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits but, without the Medicaid expansion pathway, could be uninsured during the required 24-month waiting period before Medicare eligibility.” 

Medicaid Expansion Reduces Out-Of-Pocket Health Care Spending, Which Is Especially Important For People With Disabilities Who Often Have Limited Incomes. According to the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, between 2010 and 2015, the average out-of-pocket spending decreased in states that expanded Medicaid and increased in non-expansion states. A majority, or nearly 85 percent, of adults with disabilities who have Medicaid coverage earn annual incomes of less than 200 percent of the FPL, $12,060 for an individual, making access to affordable health care even more essential. 

Medicaid Is A Vital Source Of Care For People With Disabilities

Medicaid Helps People With Disabilities Receive Comprehensive, Consistent Care. “Nonelderly Medicaid adults with disabilities are four times as likely to receive nursing or other health care at home, more than 2.5 times as likely to have three or more functional limitations, and more than 1.5 times as likely to have 10 or more health care visits in a year compared to people with disabilities who are privately insured.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 3/16/17]

Medicaid Covers A Broad Range Of Preventive And Medical Services. “Through Medicaid, nonelderly adults with disabilities have access to regular preventive care as well as medical care for illnesses and chronic conditions.  States must provide certain minimum services for adults, such as inpatient and outpatient hospital, physician, lab and x-ray, and nursing home services. States also can choose to provide a broad range of optional services, many of which are important to people with disabilities, such as prescription drugs, physical therapy, private duty nursing, personal care, rehabilitative services, and case management.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 3/16/17]

Adults With Disabilities Are More Likely To Have Medicaid, And Less Likely To Have Private Insurance, Than Those Without Disabilities. “Those with disabilities are about three times as likely to be covered by Medicaid and about half as likely to have private insurance compared to those without disabilities. These differences are influenced by the greater health needs of people with disabilities and the fact that they are less likely to have access to employer-sponsored coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 3/16/17]

Medicaid Provides Half Of Long-Term Care In U.S. “Medicaid provides half the nation’s long-term care. Over the decades, states, CMS, providers and consumers have worked to broaden access to care in home and community based settings, where many seniors and people with disabilities would prefer to live…In 2013, the Medicaid program reached a major milestone: for the first time, the majority of Medicaid spending on long term services and supports (LTSS) was for home and community based services (HCBS) rather than for institutional care.” [Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services, January 2017]

Medicaid Helps People With Disabilities Who Need Long-Term Care To Stay In Their Communities. “As of 2011, 80% of nonelderly people with disabilities who use Medicaid long-term care are served in the community, with the remaining 20% in institutions (Figure 13).  Over the last several decades, states have made substantial progress in serving more nonelderly adults with disabilities in the community instead of in nursing homes. HCBS typically are less expensive than nursing homes and are preferred by many nonelderly adults with disabilities.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 3/16/17

Julie Reiskin, Executive Director of ColoradoCross Disability Coalition: Medicaid Helps People With Chronic Disabilities To Access The Care They Need In Their Communities. “It is Medicaid that provides the in-home aid who helps get an adult with quadriplegia out of bed, dressed and able to go to work in the morning. It is Medicaid that provides the in-home occupational therapist who works with the autistic child so she can live at home with her family — not be pushed into an institution.” [Reiskin, The Hill, 6/21/17]

Medicaid Increases Financial Security For People With Disabilities

Medicaid Is One Of The Most Effective Anti-Poverty Programs, Particularly For People With Disabilities. “Medicaid reduced the health inclusive poverty measure by 3.8 percentage points. This is comparable to the combined effect of all social insurance programs and greater than the effects of non-health means tested benefits and refundable tax credits…The poverty-reducing effects were greatest for adults with disabilities, the elderly children, and racial/ethnic minorities.” [Georgetown Center for Children and Families, 3/8/18

Medicaid Expansion Increased Employment For People With Disabilities.Individuals with disabilities are significantly more likely to be employed if they live in a state that has expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, a new study has found. Researchers at the University of Kansas co-authored a study that found a 6 percentage-point difference in employment rates among working-age adults with disabilities in states that expanded Medicaid and those that chose not to.” [The University Of Kansas, 12/21/16