To: Interested Parties
From: Leslie Dach, Campaign Chair, Protect Our Care
Date: January 29, 2018
Re: State of American Health Care Threatened by Trump & GOP’s War on Health Care
On Tuesday, President Trump will deliver his first official State of the Union address. We anticipate he will gloat about his efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act (ACA), take insurance away from millions of people in order to fund tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthiest , cut hundreds of billions of dollars from care for the elderly, children, and people with disabilities, and promise a continuation of his partisan approach to health care in 2018. But his agenda is overwhelmingly unpopular. The American people are saying “enough is enough.” We demand that the Trump Administration and Congress stop their war on our care.
The 2017 Republican War on Health Care
Last year, the Trump Administration and its Republican allies in Congress waged a war on our health care. Their attacks included five attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, proposing to end Medicaid as we know it, and sabotaging our health care system. Under their agenda, millions would lose coverage, costs would increase, especially for those with pre-existing conditions, and insurers would be able to skirt the tough rules that currently protect consumers thanks to the health care law. At the end of the first year of the Trump Administration, 3.2 million people have lost their health coverage, and premium rates spiked because of uncertainty President Trump injected into the individual insurance marketplaces. Here is what the first year of Trump’s partisan war on health care looked like:
- On his first day in office, President Trump signs an Executive Order directing the administration to identify every way it can unravel the Affordable Care Act.
- The Trump Administration proposes a rule to weaken Marketplace coverage and raise premiums for millions of middle-class families.
- The Trump Administration sends a letter to governors encouraging them to submit proposals which include provisions such as work requirements that make it harder for Medicaid beneficiaries to get affordable care and increase the number of people who are uninsured.
- The Trump Administration cuts the number of days people could sign up for coverage during open enrollment by half, from 90 days to 45 days.
- House Republicans vote for and pass a health care repeal bill that would cause 23 million people to lose coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It would have imposed an age tax and allowed insurers to charge people over 50 five times more for coverage and ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of seniors, children and people with disabilities in jeopardy.
- Senate Republicans embark on a monthslong failed attempt to pass BCRA, Skinny Repeal and Graham-Cassidy, all repeal bills that would have caused millions of Americans to lose their health coverage and raised premiums by double digits for millions more. They would have ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of children, seniors and people with disabilities at risk.
- The Trump Administration uses funding intended to support health insurance enrollment to launch a multimedia propaganda campaign against the Affordable Care Act.
- The Administration cuts the outreach advertising budget for Open Enrollment by 90 percent, from $100 million to just $10 million – which resulted in as many as 1.1 million fewer people getting covered.
- The Administration orders the Department of Health and Human Services’ regional directors to stop participating in Open Enrollment events. Mississippi Health Advocacy Program Executive Director Roy Mitchell says, “I didn’t call it sabotage…But that’s what it is.”
- The Trump Administration takes direct aim at birth control by rolling back a rule that guaranteed women access to contraception. (A court has since questioned the legality of the action.)
- President Trump signs an Executive Order to roll back key consumer protections that will result in garbage insurance, raise premiums, reduce coverage and again expose millions of Americans to discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
- The Trump Administration dramatically cuts in-person assistance to help people sign up for 2018 health coverage.
- After threatening for months to stop funding cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) that help lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, the Trump Administration stops the payments altogether. The CBO finds that failing to make these payments will increase premiums by 20% and add nearly $200 billion to the debt.
- Republicans refuse to move forward on the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill to address the CSR crisis even though it had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
- The Trump Administration proposes a rule to expand association health plans, which would gut consumer protections, raise costs for people with pre-existing conditions and further destabilize the insurance markets.
- Congressional Republicans pass their tax scam, which doubles as a sneaky repeal of the Affordable Care Act by kicking 13 million people off of their insurance and raising premiums by double digits for millions more.
- The Trump Administration announces that it will support states that impose onerous work requirements on Americans covered by Medicaid, and approves Kentucky’s worst-in-the-nation waiver the next day.
- The Trump Administration announces a move to allow providers to discriminate by allowing them to deny patient care for almost any reason.
- The Trump Administration makes plans to announce even more exemptions from the requirement people have health coverage before this provision is repealed altogether.
Despite Attacks, the Affordable Care Act Continues to Help Americans
While the Trump Administration and its Republican allies in Congress had some success last year in their partisan war on health care, the Affordable Care Act is still here, and it is working. The reason the law survived is simple: the American people made their voices heard last year at town halls, rallies and the voting booth, thwarting the partisan repeal effort in Congress.
Despite Trump-led attacks, and because the American people spoke up, insurers still cannot deny or drop coverage because of a pre-existing condition; tax credits are still available to help people pay for coverage; young adults can still stay on their parents’ plan until age 26; the Medicare prescription drug donut hole is still closed; and Medicaid is still a lifeline for millions of seniors, children and people with disabilities. The recent open enrollment period saw nearly 9 million people sign up for coverage in the federal marketplaces, despite the Trump Administration’s decisions to cut the open enrollment period in half and refuse to promote it. While any law can be improved, and the ACA is no exception, it continues to provide affordable health care and vital protections to millions of Americans.
Enough is Enough: Stop the Partisan War on Health Care
The Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress need to listen to the American people who are saying ‘enough is enough.’ It’s time to stop the partisan health care repeal effort and work on bipartisan solutions. If Republican politicians do not listen, they do so at their own peril. Recent polling by Protect Our Care showed that health care is far and away the number one issue on voters’ minds, and is one of the main reasons why voters disapprove of the job Republicans in Washington are doing.
Last week, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said, “I don’t think we should be spending time trying to do repeal and replace of Obamacare.” Her colleagues in Congress, and President Trump himself, would do well to listen to her.