2023 Impact Report
Lower Costs, Better Care: Another Historic Year for Health Care
In 2023, Protect Our Care led the fight to make high-quality, affordable, and equitable health care a right, and not a privilege, for everyone in America.
As 2024 begins, I’d like to share the great work that the team at Protect Our Care did in 2023 and the impact it is having on the lives of millions of Americans. Our work played a critical role in…
- Defending Medicaid, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act from political and legal attacks that would have been devastating for tens of millions of people
- Signing up a historic number of Americans for coverage through the Affordable Care Act
- Building support for new legislation that will address the maternal mortality crisis in America and improve care for moms and children
- Lowering the cost of life saving prescription drugs by making sure that the historic Medicare drug price negotiation program established by the Inflation Reduction Act is fully and equitably implemented
- Defending reproductive rights by raising awareness and shaping the narrative about the potential impact of ideologically driven lawsuits that threaten access to vital preventive health care services and the medical abortion pill mifepristone
- Built support around the country and in Washington for stronger policy to expand coverage, lower costs, and increase equity
- Fought back against the greed of big drug companies and other special interests
- Educated the media and the public, and shaped the public narrative about health care policy through extensive and strategic engagement with national, state and local media and by publishing dozens of reports and factsheets that countered misinformation
- Organized and supported health care champions in Congress and across a wide range of advocacy organizations across the country; and called out those who are trying to take us backwards
- Amplified the voices of citizen storytellers through our Health Care Storyteller Corps
And that’s just a short summary of Protect Our Care’s many ongoing initiatives. It’s increasingly clear that POC plays a unique and essential role in the health care advocacy space and in the fight for a better America. We are an action-oriented nonprofit that combines experience and expertise in policy, politics, legislative strategy, advocacy, message development, communications, and organizing. We are a small team that makes a big difference and one that many others in the space rely on.
It is no surprise that affordable health care is a critical issue for so many no matter their political party or where they live. It is a core economic issue and literally a matter of life or death.
We’ve accomplished a lot, but we have much more to do in the years to come. Too many are still without health insurance, too many can’t afford the care they need, and too many people of color are left behind. I am more convinced than ever that, if we are going to build an inclusive America and a stronger and fairer economy that works for all Americans, we must have a health care system that works for all Americans.
The Protect Our Care team will continue its relentless fight in 2024 to make high-quality, affordable and equitable health care a right, and not a privilege, for everyone in America.
Founder and Chair, Protect Our Care
Protect Our Care 2023 Highlights
Promoting ACA Open Enrollment
Enrollment in ACA marketplaces insurance plans reached an all time high of 20.3 million people in 2023! This is thanks to the hard work of local navigators and the health care advocacy community. In addition to our ongoing advocacy work to defend the ACA from legal and legislative attacks, Protect Our Care is also shining a spotlight on those local organizations that are so critical to ACA enrollment. On November 1, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra joined Protect Our Care at the Legal Aid Justice Center, an ENROLL Virginia! site, to mark the first day of the 2024 Affordable Care Act open enrollment period. Furthermore, our team worked hard to educate the public about the enhanced premium tax credits enacted in the American Rescue Plan in 2021, and extended in the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, that make ACA health insurance plans even more affordable.
Making Prescription Drugs More Affordable
We were proud to join President Biden at the White House on August 29th for his historic announcement of the first ten drugs subject to Medicare price negotiations under the Inflation Reduction Act. In addition to capping what seniors pay for insulin at $35 per month, this new law will lower the cost of drugs that treat cancer, blood clots, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. Protect Our Care defended the law from a disinformation campaign by the pharmaceutical industry through our “Greed Watch” project and by coordinating an assertive response to legal challenges. We also worked closely with staff at the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services to make sure that the law is being fully and effectively implemented so that it benefits as many people as possible.
Improving Equity in Maternal Health Care
Our Policy, Legislative, and Communications teams worked with members of Congress to build support for legislation that would improve maternal health. For example, we were proud to host a press call at which U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-Il-02) and several maternal health advocates talked about how the CARE for Moms Act is a comprehensive plan to combat the U.S. maternal mortality crisis. We are also leading the charge for the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, a package of thirteen bills that address critical drivers of maternal mortality through diversifying the workforce, investments in digital tools, and improvements in quality measures.
Empowering the Movement for Equitable and Affordable Health Care
POC continues to be a vital research, communications and organizing hub for the broader health care movement in America. In 2023, our team broadened and deepened its relationships with other national, state and local health care advocacy organizations in 2023. We continued to convene a biweekly call during which representatives of more than 100 groups shared information and resources and coordinated strategies. We made our extensive health care polling and messaging guidance and our digital toolkits and factsheets available to all of our partners. Our state teams worked with dozens of state and local health advocacy organizations, elected officials and storytellers on a variety of press events to empower the voices of ordinary Americans and shape an accurate and compelling public narrative about health care policy.
Driving Down Health Care Costs Bus Tour
The “Care Force One” bus traveled 8,000 miles and made 25 stops in 14 states in August to educate the public about how the Inflation Reduction Act is lowering drug prices. The POC team was joined at these stops by 3 Senators, 8 U.S. Representatives, 1 governor, 3 attorney generals and lieutenant governors, 36 local officials, and dozens of health care storytellers and advocates. You can see a video highlight reel of elected officials here, and of television coverage here.
Medicare Open Enrollment Educational Van Tour
Protect Our Care’s Medicare-A-Van traveled nearly 7,000 miles over three weeks in October and November making 22 stops in 10 states to educate the public about how “Medicare is Better Than Ever” thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act. These events included numerous state and local elected officials and generated substantial local media coverage.
Health Care Advocacy in Ten States
In 2023, POC had teams in ten states: Arizona, California, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. They operate under the POC brand and function much like a state office or chapter. Our staff in the states are highly experienced and well connected political and issue advocacy professionals and are desked centrally by our Communications, Legislative, Research, Digital and Organizing staff in our national “Health Care War Room.”
The Health Care Storyteller Corps
In 2023, we continued to make our “Health Care Storyteller Corps” the largest, most diverse, most knowledgeable, and most impactful health care storyteller program in the country. Now more than 800 members strong, and spread out across the country, these storytellers are making sure the voices of ordinary Americans are heard in health policy debates on the national, state and local level. Our storytellers were featured at more than 140 events on the national and state level that helped generate hundreds of clips in national, state and local television and print media. They introduced President Biden at the White House, spoke at events with Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, and appeared with numerous members of Congress and state and local elected officials. In addition, storytellers were a vital part of the 2023 bus and van tours. Their stories are important and our team is making sure that they are heard. Please take a moment to watch this short video of our health care storytellers in action!
Winning Battles in the Partisan, Ideological War on Health Care in America
A war against health care is being waged by far right activists and Republican members of Congress. It happened during the fight over the debt limit, continued during the budget negotiations, and is happening in the courts. Their goals are to drastically cut Medicaid enrollment and funding, repeal the Affordable Care Act, end key preventive care, deny women their reproductive rights, increase profits for drug companies, and impose their personal ideologies on health care providers and patients. Their primary weapons are legislation, lawsuits, and disinformation. They are well-funded, determined and relentless. In 2023 POC leveraged its core strengths, which include policy advocacy, public education, national and state organizing, message research, communications, public accountability for elected officials, and healthcare storytelling, to fight and ultimately win these battles to protect health care.
We also fought hard to defeat lawsuits that threaten access to preventive health care, (particularly for the LGBTQ population), reproductive rights, and the Inflation Reduction Act’s lowering of drug costs. For example, we shaped the public narrative about cases like Braidwood, which would jeopardize coverage of dozens of preventive services that benefit 160 million Americans, and Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, which would severely restrict access to medical abortion and threaten the FDA’s entire drug approval process.
Defending Medicaid and Advancing Health Equity
In the spring, Republicans tried to use the debate over the debt ceiling to impose so-called “work requirements” on Medicaid enrollees. This could have ripped away coverage from more than 20 million people. As part of our annual “Medicaid Awareness Month” in April we mobilized lawmakers, advocates and citizen storytellers to fight back against work requirements. We also published a series of fact sheets about how Medicaid is a lifeline for women and children, communities of color, and rural Americans, and about how the work requirements proposal was a threat to veterans’ health, mental health and other vital health programs. And we won!
The other emerging crisis in Medicaid is the coverage losses resulting from the expiration of the Public Health Emergency declared during the Covid crisis. We were pleased to partner with several leading civil rights organizations, including UnidosUS and the NAACP, to release this important report: Six Months into Unwinding: History’s Deepest Medicaid Losses Demand State Action. We also hosted a press call on November 6 about the report that included U.S. Representative Steven Horsford, U.S Representative Jill Tokuda and leaders from UnidosUS, the NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Urban League and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum. Working with allies, we are focusing on those states with unacceptable levels of paperwork causing elimination of life saving benefits.
Defending Reproductive Health Care Rights and Access to Preventive Care
Building on our track record of shaping public narratives that helped to defeat prior lawsuits that threatened the Affordable Care Act, we are now raising awareness of the impact that cases such as Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine vs. FDA and Braidwood Management vs. Becerra could have on access to contraception (and other vital preventive services) and medical abortion. We have a key role to play by raising broader legal concerns about how an adverse ruling in the medical abortion (mifepristone) case could cause chaos in the entire drug approval process, which many legal scholars think will be a key to winning this case at the Supreme Court.
2023 By the Numbers
Hosted 141 events
Hosted 141 events in 14 states that generated 364 press clips
533 total press clips
Generated 533 total press clips in local, state and national media through a total of 167 events
Published nearly 300 reports and factsheets
Published nearly 300 reports and factsheets explaining complex health policy issues in clear and understandable ways for a broad audience of partner organizations, the media and the public.
What We Did: Communicate, Advocate, Research, Educate, Organize, Lobby, Inspire Action
- Hosted 141 events in 14 states that generated 364 press clips
- Hosted 26 national press events, including 4 in-person, through our war room in DC, featuring 4 Senators, 21 Representatives, 2 Biden Administration officials, and 46 experts and advocates, helping to drive the national health care narrative by generating 169 press clips.
- Generated 533 total press clips in local, state and national media through a total of 167 events
- Worked with storytellers and state and local partner organizations to place 46 op-eds on health care issues.
- Engaged 25 U.S. Representatives, 8 U.S. Senators, 11 Biden Administration officials, 55 state and local elected officials, and 146 health care professionals, policy experts, advocates, and storytellers in our state events.
- Published nearly 300 reports and factsheets explaining complex health policy issues in clear and understandable ways for a broad audience of partner organizations, the media and the public.
- Traveled 15,000 miles to do press events in 43 communities across 14 states on our “Care Force One” bus and “Medicare-a van” tours to educate the public and inspire action on our health care policy priorities.
- Leveraged our growing followings on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (X), and TikTok (700,000+) to educate and engage Americans of all backgrounds on health care and to hear and share their stories.
- Partnered with social media influencers on TikTok and Instagram to promote the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and the Inflation Reduction Act and to encourage their followers on both platforms to share their health care stories about how these laws are changing their lives for the better.
- Leveraged our uniquely close relationships with White House and HHS staff to influence policies and administrative actions that will expand coverage and reduce health care costs.
- Lobbied Congress assertively to defend and strengthen vital health care programs such as the ACA, Medicaid, Medicare, and the Inflation Reduction Act and improve those programs with new laws to further reduce costs, expand coverage and advance equity.
- Conducted and published numerous public opinion polls on a variety of health care issues that informed messaging campaigns on health care issues.
- Convened a twice weekly call of 60-100 participants from a 605-member list of different organizations working on health care, to share information and ideas and coordinate strategies.
Your Health Care Story Matters!
As impressive as these numbers are, the work of Protect Our Care is ultimately about people. It’s about their right to get the health care they need for themselves and for their families. One of the highlights of 2023 was working with storytellers, like Donna West, a resident of Las Vegas, who shares her journey dealing with her husband Bob’s health challenges in a touching video. Bob, diagnosed with Afib 12 years ago, faced complications with medication adjustments and emergency room visits. The couple found relief with Xarelto, despite initial financial concerns. Donna expresses gratitude for President Biden’s efforts in holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for affordable healthcare and prescription drugs, emphasizing the importance of progress for the well-being of all Americans.
Put simply, health care matters and the hard work of the Protect Our Care team matters! We will continue to fight for millions of seniors, like Donna, and their families.
Americans Agree: Lower Costs, Better Care Is A Winning Agenda
A series of public opinion surveys conducted in summer and fall 2023 found that health care was a top concern for Americans.
According to Navigator Polling, over three in four Americans (77 percent) — including 71 percent of independents and 64 percent of Republicans — believe lowering prescription drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices is President Biden’s most supported accomplishment.
See Protect Our Care in Action Across the Country!
What’s Next for Protect Our Care?
In 2024 Protect Our Care will continue to defend Medicaid, Medicare, the ACA and the Inflation Reduction Act from legislative and legal attacks. We will also advocate assertively and strategically for our policy agenda to strengthen these programs to continue to lower and advance equity in the health care system, which includes:
- Increase the Number of Drugs Eligible to Have Lower Prices Negotiated by Medicare
- Extend the $35 Insulin Cap To Everyone
- Make Lower Prices Negotiated by Medicare Available To All
- Protect More Americans From Big Pharma’s Outrageous Price Hikes
Strengthen Medicaid and Close The Medicaid Coverage Gap
- Provide Coverage For Nearly Two Million Americans In Non-Expansion States, Including Georgia and Wisconsin
- Strengthen Medicaid Eligibility and Enrollment Systems
- Hold Accountable Governors Who Could Do More to Protect Coverage During Medicaid Unwinding
Save Lives By Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis
- Call on the Five Remaining States To Expand Medicaid Coverage for a Full 12 Months of Postpartum
- Require States to Provide 12 Months of Postpartum Medicaid Coverage for Mothers
- Pass the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act to comprehensively address the drivers of maternal mortality, morbidity, and disparities
Make the ACA’s Enhanced Premium Tax Credits Permanent
About Protect Our Care
Protect Our Care is dedicated to making high-quality, affordable, and equitable health care a right, and not a privilege, for everyone in America. We educate the public, influence policy, support health care champions and hold politicians accountable. Our priorities include expanding access to affordable, high-quality health insurance, lowering the cost of health care for individuals and families, and reducing inequities in health care based on gender, income, race, ethnicity, geography, or sexual preference. Our strategy combines an action-oriented approach with a best-in-class earned media and communications program, a highly effective inside game with policy makers, and deep engagement at the state and local level. Learn more about our issues and initiatives here.
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Ways To Give to Protect Our Care
Protect Our Care operates as a 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit that is fiscally sponsored by the Sixteen Thirty Fund and a 501(c)(3) public charity that is fiscally sponsored by the New Venture Fund. You can make a contribution to the Sixteen Thirty Fund or the New Venture Fund to support Protect Our Care on our website, via check, wire transfer, ACH, and stock. Contributions to the Sixteen Thirty Fund are not tax deductible. Contributions to the New Venture Fund to support Protect Our Care are tax deductible.
For information about how to donate to either the Sixteen Thirty Fund or the New Venture Fund in support of Protect Our Care by check, wire transfer, ACH, stock or from a Donor Advised Fund, please contact Matt Farrey, Chief Development Officer at [email protected].
Protect Our Care is primarily funded by grants from charitable foundations and other institutional donors. Institutional donors can make general support grants to either our c3 or c4 arms, may designate funding for specific initiatives and/or may fund a special project through a restricted grant with clearly defined goals, deliverables and expenses.