While a debate over Laurel and Yanny raged from coast to coast, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened this week in the war on health care, plus two more polls showcasing the massive unpopularity of the GOP sabotage campaign:

REPEAL AGAIN…REALLY?!

This week, Republican Senators once again started talking about reviving the worst of last year’s Republican repeal bills, Graham-Cassidy – apparently with the White House’s support. With the American people having rejected the GOP’s harmful repeal bills over and over again, Washington Republicans’ continued obsession with cutting Medicaid and ending protections for pre-existing conditions shows just how out of touch they are on the number one issue voters care about: health care.

THE COST OF SABOTAGE

On Monday, Protect Our Care launched Rate Watch, an educational campaign highlighting how Republican health care sabotage is forcing up health care costs across the country. As insurance companies’ preliminary rate filings point to Republican sabotage to justify hikes, Americans sat up and took notice:

The Hill: Premium Hikes Reignite The Obamacare Wars. “Democrats argue the price increases are the result of what they refer to as ‘Republican sabotage.’ They contend that, since the GOP controls Congress and the White House, the price hikes are their responsibility — and that’s the message they plan to take into the fall campaign… Protect Our Care, a pro-ObamaCare group, launched ‘Rate Watch’ on Tuesday, a media campaign and website aimed at getting out the Democrats’ message that Republicans are to blame for rate hikes..” [The Hill, 5/15]

Politico: Democrats Run On GOP Health Care ‘Sabotage.’ “Democrats are confidently running on Obamacare for the first time in a decade. They’ve got a unified message blaming Republicans for ‘sabotaging’ the health care law, leading to a cascade of sky-high insurance premiums that will come just before the November midterm elections. They’re rolling out ads featuring people helped by the law. And Tuesday, they’re starting a campaign to amplify each state’s premium increases — and tie those to GOP decisions… ‘Democrats need to prosecute the case against the Republican approach to health care,’ said Brad Woodhouse, campaign director at Protect Our Care and a longtime Democratic strategist.” [Politico, 5/15]

Washington Examiner: Obamacare Supporters Now Seizing On Rate Increases To Go After GOP. “The Obamacare advocacy group Protect Our Care announced its Rate Watch campaign Tuesday that will highlight proposed premium increases for Obamacare’s exchanges for 2019. The group said the goal of the campaign is to tie Republicans to the rate hikes because of moves such as the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty that everyone have health insurance. ‘This is a purposeful, intentional campaign of sabotage that is making health insurance unaffordable,’ Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said on a call with reporters Tuesday.” [Washington Examiner, 5/16]

VERMONTERS AND OREGONIANS BECOME LATEST VICTIMS OF GOP SABOTAGE

Emphasizing the importance of Rate Watch, this week preliminary rate filings in Vermont and Oregon for 2019 plans were announced, and they included potential double-digit premium increases. Why? Here’s what insurance companies in the two states said:

“Recent federal legislation also eliminated the penalty associated with the individual mandate. As a result, it is expected that a number of healthy individuals will choose to forgo coverage and leave the single risk pool.” [BCBS Vermont, 5/14]

“These rate changes are necessary due to the increasing cost of medical care, the continued lack of funding for cost sharing reduction plans, and the expected reduction in the size of the Individual ACA market.” [BCBS Oregon, 5/14]

“The main drivers of the rate change are the increasing cost of medical care and the expected reduction in the size of the individual market. This filing reflects projected claim expenses increasing around 8.3% annually.” [BridgeSpan, 5/14]

For the past year and a half, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have engaged in a deliberate, aggressive campaign to undermine health care, and now families in Vermont and Oregon are being asked to pay the price. President Trump and Congressional Republicans should start working on bipartisan solutions to make coverage more affordable, instead of helping their friends in the insurance industry make another buck on the backs of hardworking Americans.

NEW STUDY FINDS PREMIUM INCREASES DUE TO GOP SABOTAGE CAMPAIGN

This morning, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a new study which attributed insurance companies’ premium increases to the GOP’s sabotage campaign, namely the repeal of the individual mandate and the embrace of short-term junk plans, and notes that:

However, absent any policy changes, it is likely that insurers would generally have required only modest premium increases in 2018 and in 2019 as well. Insurers are now beginning to file proposed rates for 2019.

As a reminder, the repeal of the individual mandate is expected to increase the uninsured rate by 13 million, and short-term plans have been estimated to raise premiums by 18.2%.

PRESIDENT’S PRESCRIPTION DRUG SPEECH NOT GETTING BETTER WITH AGE

Last Friday, President Trump gave a widely-panned speech on prescription drug pricing. The early reviews were not kind, and the coverage this week was no better. Here’s how the President’s remarks were covered this week:

Washington Post: Trump’s drug price retreat adds to list of abandoned populist promises

Washington Post: The health industry appears unfazed by Trump’s drug pricing speech

Bloomberg: Drug Industry Dodges Its Worst Fears in Trump’s Plan to Lower Prices

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Experts say Trump’s prescription to reduce drug prices is not what the doctor ordered

STAT News: Trump promised to bring pharma to justice. His speech sent drug stocks soaring

SEEMA VERMA ADMITS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WILL LET UNINSURED RATE CONTINUE TO RISE

On Tuesday, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma admitted that the uninsured rate will continue to rise under her Administration’s watch.

Her remarks were only the latest example of the Trump Administration’s total disregard for Americans’ health care. During President Trump’s first year in office, the uninsured rate grew by 3 million – the largest increase since 2008. During President Trump’s second year in office, premiums are expected to increase double-digits across the country. The Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress have carried out a sabotage campaign designed to make the Affordable Care Act fail, and they have succeeded to the detriment of the American people. Administrator Verma’s admitting that the Administration has no plans to stop this suffering is disgraceful.

Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to end their war on health care. And if they don’t…

POLLS IN ARIZONA AND NEVADA CONFIRM: VOTERS SUPPORT THE ACA, OPPOSE GOP HEALTH CARE PLANS

This week, new polls were released in Arizona and Nevada. Most strikingly, the polls found that both Arizonans and Nevadans broadly support the Affordable Care Act over repeal.

From Arizona:

Republican candidates in Arizona running on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act do so at their own peril, according to a poll released Monday. The survey, conducted by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling, shows 33 percent of registered voters were more likely to vote for politicians who support scrapping ObamaCare compared to 46 percent who say they’re less likely. A majority of Arizonans also want to keep the current health law in place and would blame Republicans for health premiums increasing.

And Nevada:

In a poll released this week, most Nevada voters said they would hold Republicans “responsible” if ACA premiums increased this summer, and 53 percent favored fixing the law rather than repealing it and starting over.

Perhaps someone can bring these polls to the next Senate GOP caucus meeting.