Monthly Archives

July 2022

Back To The Future: Flashback To 2016 Shows News of Premium Hikes Could Fuel Republican Gains in November

Next year, millions of Americans will see dramatic increases in their health care costs if Congress fails to extend the enhanced premium tax credits in the American Rescue Plan — and millions will no longer be able to afford insurance at all. We’ve seen the consequences of rising premiums in an election year before. In 2016, damaging stories about premium hikes flooded the news just before voters went to the polls. These stories only benefited Republicans, who pointed to cost increases as evidence that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed entirely. 

Now, history is repeating itself. As election season approaches, news of impending premium increases are only becoming more prevalent. Open enrollment for 2023 plans begins on November 1, 2022, a week before Election Day — and rate increases are being finalized now.  Experts say insurers are likely to seek double digit increases in state after state, which means that families could pay hundreds, or even thousands of dollars more per month.  

If Congress does not act soon, news of premiums skyrocketing will be front and center as Americans prepare to go to the polls this fall. Congress must move swiftly to prevent skyrocketing premium increases and protect health coverage for millions. 

Below is a sampling of national and local headlines from the fall of 2016 showing the impact of premium spikes on the political environment:

REPUBLICANS MADE POLITICAL HAY FROM PREMIUM SPIKES IN 2016

  • BenefitsPRO: Trump Finds Opportunity In ACA Premium Increases. [BenefitsPRO, 10/26/16
  • CNN: Republicans Go On Offense Over Obamacare. [CNN, 10/25/16
  • Fox News: Republicans Blast Obamacare After Premium Hike Announcement. [Fox News, 10/25/16
  • Washington Post: Obamacare Premium Hikes Could Be Good News For Republicans. But Just How Good? [Washington Post, 10/25/16
  • Washington Times: Republicans Hope Obamacare Complications Will Flip Key States. [Washington Times, 10/30/16

NATIONAL HEADLINES

  • BenefitsPRO: ACA Premiums Could Increase For As Many As 8.4 Million. [BenefitsPRO, 11/7/16
  • CNN: Obamacare Premiums to Soar 22% [CNN, 10/25/16
  • New York Times: Some Health Plan Costs to Increase By An Average Of 25 Percent, U.S. Says. [New York Times, 10/24/16]
  • PBS: Obama Administration Announces Double-Digit Premium Hikes For Affordable Care Act [PBS, 10/24/16
  • Reuters: Obamacare Premiums for 2017 Jumped 25% on Healthcare.gov [Reuters, 10/25/16
  • Washington Post: Average Premiums For Popular ACA Plans Rising 25 Percent. [Washington Post, 10/24/16
  • Washington Post: Where Obamacare Prices Are Rising Dramatically [Washington Post, 11/1/16

STATE HEADLINES

ARIZONA

  • CBS: Arizona Obamacare Plan To Jump By 116 Percent When Premiums Go Up Next Year. [CBS, 10/26/16
  • New York Times: Increase in Health Act Premiums May Affect Arizona Vote. [New York Times, 10/13/16

CALIFORNIA

  • Los Angeles Times: Some Californians See Health Premiums Rise Sharply As Obamacare Enrollment Nears. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/16

COLORADO 

  • Denver Post: Colorado Health-Insurance Rates To Jump 20 Percent On Average For Individual Buyers In 2017. [Denver Post, 9/20/16

FLORIDA

  • Associated Press: Florida Insurers Seek Rate Increases For Obamacare Plans [Associated Press, 5/26/16

IOWA

  • Des Moines Register: Wellmark Plans 38% To 43% Increases For Some Customers [Des Moines Register, 5/12/16

MINNESOTA

  • St. Paul Pioneer Press: ‘Emergency’ For Minnesota As Huge Insurance Premium Hikes Confirmed. [St. Paul Pioneer Press, 9/30/16
  • St. Paul Pioneer Press: Minnesota’s Health Insurance Premium Hike Is Fourth-Highest In Nation [St. Paul Pioneer Press, 10/24/16

NORTH CAROLINA

  • Charlotte Observer: NC Blue Cross Announces Rate Increase Of 24.3 Percent For Aca Marketplace Plans. [Charlotte Observer, 10/17/16

WEST VIRGINIA

  • Wheeling News Register: West Virginia to Feel the Pain Of Health Insurance Hikes [Wheeling News Register, 10/26/16

Senate Democrats Move to Protect Medicare in Reconciliation Package

Washington DC —Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Senate Democrats are including measures to extend Medicare’s solvency in the budget reconciliation package, securing health care for seniors nationwide. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“By extending Medicare’s solvency, Senate Democrats are averting a health care crisis and protecting health care for millions of seniors. Democrats understand that American seniors have worked hard for these benefits and depend on them to get the health care they need. Republicans, on the other hand, have a plan that would sunset the program, along with Social Security, after five years. 

“Passing the budget package means that Medicare will be protected for years to come, and it is just one more reason that Congress should work quickly to get reconciliation legislation to President Biden’s desk.”  

Senate Forges Ahead With Bill to Lower Prescription Drug Costs for Families

Democrats’ Legislation Gives Medicare the Power to Negotiate Drug Prices

Washington, D.C. — Last night, Senate Democrats released bill text to reduce prescription drug costs for millions of Americans. This legislation gives Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, caps seniors’ out-of-pocket drug costs, and penalizes drug companies that raise prices faster than inflation. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“President Biden and Democratic leaders are fighting tirelessly to bring relief to lower families’ everyday health care costs. Americans are sick and tired of choosing between paying the bills and affording the medications they need to survive. Between giving Medicare the power to negotiate, capping drug costs for seniors, and limiting egregious price hikes, this bill will lower costs for millions of Americans. Meanwhile, Republicans are continuing to prioritize drug industry profits and stall any progress by insisting on procedural delays on any vote seeking to lower drug prices. We urge Congress to follow through and get this bill on President Biden’s desk.” 

TODAY: U.S. Representatives Boyle and Wild To Discuss Why Congress Must Act Quickly to Stop Health Insurance Premium Increases for Pennsylvanians & Lower Prescription Drug Prices

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR THURSDAY, JULY 7 AT 1:00 PM ET***

Pennsylvania — On Thursday July 7th at 1 PM, U.S. Representatives Brendan Boyle and Susan Wild will join For Our Future PA, Protect Our Care Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Health Access Network and Family Friendly Pennsylvania to discuss the need for Congressional action to make health care more affordable as household costs rise. 

A new report shows the premium tax credits included in the American Rescue Plan have made health coverage more affordable for Pennsylvanians. These premium tax credits dramatically lowered the cost of health care coverage for 375,000 Pennsylvanians. Last week, 14 Democratic governors from across the country, including Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, sent a letter to congressional leadership, urging them to extend the enhanced premium tax credits that are set to expire at the end of this year.

Members of the Senate are reportedly close to a deal that would include parts of the House-passed proposal to lower prescription drug costs. The deal is slated to allow Medicare to negotiate the price of select drugs on behalf of seniors, cap seniors’ out of pocket drug costs, and penalize companies that raise prescriptions faster than inflation. Together, these two measures would significantly reduce health care costs at a time when Pennsylvania families are already facing higher costs.

VIRTUAL EVENT:

WHO:
Representative Brendan Boyle
Representative Susan Wild
Antoinette Kraus, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN)
For Our Future PA
Protect Our Care PA
Family Friendly Pennsylvania

WHAT: Virtual Press Conference

WHEN: Thursday July 7th at 1PM

WHERE: Register to join the Zoom event (Registration required)

TODAY: Rep. Shontel Brown, Health Care Experts To Discuss Why Congress Must Act Quickly to Stop Health Insurance Premium Increases for Ohioans

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR THURSDAY, JULY 7 AT 10:00 AM ET***

Cleveland, OH — Today, Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 10:00 AM ET, U.S. Representative Shontel Brown (D-OH-11) and Northeast Ohio health care leaders will join Protect Our Care Ohio to discuss the importance of making premium tax credits that were included in the American Rescue Plan permanent. They will discuss a new report that shows the premium tax credits included in the ARP have made health coverage more affordable for Ohioans. The report also lays out the dire consequences if Congress fails to extend the credits, which will expire at the end of 2022 without congressional action.

Rep. Brown was among 57 members of Congress who recently sent a letter to party leadership underscoring the importance of legislation to extend the advanced premium tax credits.

VIRTUAL EVENT:

WHO:
Congresswoman Shontel Brown (D-OH-11)
Yvonka Hall, Executive Director, Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition
Molly Nagin, Certified Navigator, Affordable Care Act, UHCAN Ohio

WHAT: Virtual Press Conference

WHERE: Register for the Event Here

WHEN: Thursday, July 7 at 10:00 AM ET

Anne Morris Reid Joins Protect Our Care as Senior Advisor on Health Equity and Policy

Anne Morris Reid Previously Served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, Chief of Staff to Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Counselor to then-HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell 

Washington, DC — Anne Morris Reid is joining Protect Our Care on July 1 as senior advisor on health equity and policy. Her expertise in public health, and management and policy experience from her prior service in the House and Senate and at HHS, will further Protect Our Care’s mission to ensure health care is a right for every American and not a privilege. Read Anne’s full biography here

Protect Our Care (POC) is expanding its ongoing work on health equity to address the deep racial/ethnic and other inequities in accessing high-quality, affordable health care across the United States. POC is also deepening its work on HHS administrative actions. POC works on the federal and state level to advocate for policies that increase coverage, lower the cost of insurance premiums and prescription drug prices, and improve maternal health care. 

“Anne is a leading voice in the fight for affordable health care and health equity, and she will bring a vast range of experiences to this role,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Between her work in the Department of Health and Human Services in both the Obama-Biden and Biden-Harris Administrations, her leadership role for Senator Warren, and her expertise in public health, Anne knows how to make a difference and understands the barriers communities of color are facing to accessing the health care they need. We are honored to have Anne join Protect Our Care and play a key leadership role to make deep and lasting change in American health care.” 

“The pandemic laid to bare alarming disparities in our health system, from maternal mortality to addiction and overdose,” said Anne Morris Reid. “We cannot continue in a system where the color of your skin, who you love, or where you live determines whether or not you can get the care you need. I am thrilled to join the Protect Our Care team and hit the ground running to help make affordable and accessible health coverage — including reproductive care — a reality for more Americans.”

ICYMI: Protect Our Care’s Liz Ernst Joins Senator Warnock in Aging Committee Hearing to Call for Lower Drug Costs Now

Watch Liz Ernst’s Full Testimony Here

On Friday, U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) held a field hearing for the Senate Aging Committee in Georgia on his push to lower prescription drug prices. Skyrocketing drug costs are forcing Georgians and families across the country to forgo basic necessities like groceries or gas in order to access the medications they need to survive. During the hearing, Senator Warnock and speakers called on the Senate to pass critical provisions to lower drug prices for the American people, including limiting insulin costs to $35 per month, capping insulin costs for seniors, and giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices. Director of Protect Our Care Georgia, Elizabeth Ernst, shared the story of a Georgia woman who developed anxiety and depression from having to ration her insulin supply due to the increasing price, making clear that lack of access to prescription drugs is costing people more than just their money. The hearing made clear that lawmakers must act now to ensure Americans can afford the prescription drugs  they need.

Coverage

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Warnock Focuses Senate Hearing on Curbing Drug Prices. “Elizabeth Ernst, the director of the Protect Our Care Georgia advocacy group, spoke of a woman who rationed drug medication who developed depression and anxiety… To get the mental health treatment she needs costs even more money. The cycle of violence continues all because she couldn’t get her insulin medication. It’s a domino effect.” [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/1/22]

CBS (Atlanta): Sen. Warnock Chairs Congressional Hearing in Georgia on Lowering Prescription Drug Costs. “Drug makers exploit our broken healthcare system by hiking the prices of lifesaving medications in order to make record-breaking profits,” said Elizabeth Ernst, the state director of Protect our Care Georgia.” [CBS (Atlanta), 7/1/22]

Georgia Recorder: Warnock Pushes Caps on Prescription Costs, Negotiated Medicare Drug Prices. “Liz Ernst, state director for the Georgia chapter of the left-leaning health care advocacy group Protect Our Care, said that the story is sadly all too familiar…  ‘Every day, drugmakers exploit our broken health care system by hiking the prices of life saving medicines in order to make record breaking profits,” she said. “Between 2019 and 2020, half of all drugs covered by Medicare Part D had price increases equal to or greater than the rate of inflation. A 2020 congressional report traced the steep price hikes of the cancer drug Revlimid to the desire of executives to ‘meet company revenue targets and shareholder earnings goals.’ In Georgia, (Bristol Myers Squibb’s) Revlimid’s price rose 44% from 2015 to 2020.” [Georgia Recorder, 7/2//22]

Tweets

Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA): “I’m proud to chair this hearing and lead the fight in lowering costs for seniors. We’re looking for real solutions like my Capping Drug Costs for Seniors Act— to shift more of the cost burden on drug manufacturers — saving taxpayer dollars.” [@SenatorWarnock, 7/1/22]

Protect Our Care: “Americans are sick and tired of paying three times the amount that people in other countries pay for the same drugs. Families can no longer afford to wait. The time for fair, affordable drug prices is now.” [@ProtectOurCare, 7/1/22]

HEADLINES: A “Looming Disaster” on Health Care Premium Hikes

Millions of Americans Could Pay More for Their Health Premiums if Congress Fails to Extend the American Rescue Plan Tax Credits

As the health care savings under the American Rescue Plan are set to expire, millions of Americans are facing dramatic increases in their 2023 health insurance premiums. Just this week, 14 Democratic governors from across the nation wrote a letter to congressional leadership urging them to extend the premium tax credits now. Failure to extend the tax credits means nine million Americans would pay more for their health care at a time families are already concerned about keeping up with rising costs — and as many as three million Americans could lose coverage altogether. Recent coverage and opinion pieces underscore the importance of preventing this health care “disaster” and ensuring families can continue to afford the health care they need. 

CNBC: Health Insurance Premiums Poised To Jump Next Year For 13 Million People Unless Congress Extends Expanded Subsidies For Marketplace Coverage. “Unless Congress takes action, enhanced premium subsidies — technically, tax credits — that have been in place for 2021 and 2022 will disappear after this year. The change would affect 13 million of the 14.5 million people who get their health insurance through the federal exchange or their state’s marketplace.” [CNBC, 6/27/22]

The Hill: Democratic Governors Urge Congress To Avert ‘Disastrous’ Obamacare Premium Hike. “If the enhanced subsidies expire, it would return the Affordable Care Act to its pre-2021 levels of financial assistance. But the premium increases would be substantial, with an average increase of about 53 percent affecting roughly 13 million people, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.” [The Hill, 6/29/22]

Los Angeles Times: Californians Brace For Increased Healthcare Premiums If Federal Subsidies Expire. “Federal subsidies passed as part of a temporary pandemic relief package have drastically cut how much he pays in healthcare premiums, allowing the Sacramento-area small-business owner to purchase an insurance plan during the last two years that provided better coverage for his shoulder and knee replacements. Those federal subsidies, however, will expire at the end of this year if Congress does not extend the program. [Syd Winlock’s] ‘very manageable’ price — about $700 a month for him and his wife — will increase to $2,300.” [6/20/22]

Washington Post (Opinion): The Looming Disaster On Obamacare Subsidies Keeps Looking Worse. “When the enhancements expire, many of those millions will see those premiums spike by hundreds of dollars on average, and 3 million could lose coverage entirely. This is important as a political matter because even if the enhanced subsidies don’t expire until the end of the year, some time before then — probably in October, right before the election — insurers will begin notifying people of newly increased premiums. Imagine a wave of local news stories with shots of struggling parents gazing with consternation at those letters.” [Washington Post, 6/29/22]

Bloomberg (Editorial): A Health-Care Cliff Could Leave Millions Uninsured. “Last year’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief package also increased and expanded premium tax credits for Affordable Care Act insurance. As a result, signups rose to a record 14.5 million in 2022 and premium payments halved for millions of enrollees…The enhanced premium subsidies will expire by year-end, though insurers are already submitting their 2023 plans to state regulators.” [6/30/22]

Reports & Research

Kaiser Family Foundation: How ACA Premiums Would Change For People Losing Rescue Plan Subsidies. “If the ARPA subsidies expire, premium payments will increase across the board for all 13 million subsidized Marketplace enrollees. But the approximately one million people with incomes above four times the poverty level will face a double whammy: Not only will many of them lose subsidies, but they will also have to start paying for any increase in the unsubsidized premium beyond that. The reality is that for many people, such an increase in premium payments would be unaffordable, leading them to drop their health coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 6/30/22]

Health Affairs: Delays Extending The American Rescue Plan’s Health Insurance Subsidies Will Raise Premiums And Reduce Coverage. “Lower-income consumers with low or zero premiums may experience “rate shock” at premiums returning to pre-ARPA levels. Middle-income consumers who are receiving financial help for the first time under the ARPA will again have no protection against premiums—a particular concern for older enrollees and those in high-price states such as West Virginia and Wyoming. Consumers slated for automatic re-enrollment may opt out, resulting in much lower renewal rates. Consumers may write off the idea of re-enrolling and stop opening Marketplace mail or reading electronic communications — meaning they won’t find out if an extension is later enacted. They may remove the premium from their budget planning for the following year and commit those funds to other purposes. Even consumers who do decide to shop may lose trust in the Marketplace and be less likely to enroll.” [Health Affairs, 6/5/22]

In The States

(WI) Wisconsin Examiner: Tax Credits That Lowered My Family’s Health Care Costs Are At Risk. Yours May Be, Too. “The American Rescue Plan, which passed Congress without a single Republican vote and was signed into law by President Joe Biden, included enhanced premium tax credits for those, like my family, who purchase their health care through the Obamacare marketplace…Now, it’s time to build on that progress once again, by extending the Advanced Premium Tax Credits that were part of the American Rescue Plan.” [Wisconsin Examiner, 6/30/22]

(WI) Up North News: Pandemic Relief Helped Millions Needing Health Insurance. Only Congress Can Ensure Their Coverage Won’t Expire. “We know that when people are as healthy as possible, they thrive. Not only is keeping people healthy the right thing to do morally, but it is also good for our country to have a healthy community living their lives to their fullest potential. We need to make sure the ACA COVID subsidies are extended and keep the path clear for people to have a better future.” [Up North News, 6/14/22]

(WI) Up North News: Wisconsin Republicans Willing To Let Health Insurance Premiums Skyrocket. “Among the provisions in the American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Joe Biden last year were advanced premium tax credits for health insurance plans purchased on the Obamacare exchange. The lower premiums that resulted from the enhanced tax credits led to more than 14.5 million Americans purchasing healthcare on the Obamacare exchange in 2021, a record…With inflation continuing to hit working families hard, only one party is working to ease the burden on pocketbooks by lowering healthcare costs — the Democratic Party.” [Up North News, 6/3/22]

(OH) Toledo Blade: Only Congress Can Stop Skyrocketing Health-Insurance Premiums. “The ARP included life-changing tax credits…All of this progress, however, is hanging in the balance. If Congress does not act, these tax credits will expire at the end of this year, and premiums will suddenly rise for middle class families at the beginning of 2023. Open enrollment for 2023 plans begins on November 1st this year. There isn’t a moment to waste — Congress should act immediately to make the ARP’s tax credits a permanent part of the Affordable Care Act.” [Toledo Blade, 6/29/22]