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Americans Can’t Trust a Republican-Negotiated ACA Stabilization Bill

Washington, DC – In response to reports that Republicans in Congress have cut Democrats out of the discussion on how to fix the damage President Trump’s sabotage has inflicted on the health care markets, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Once again, Congressional Republicans are drafting partisan health care bills in secret behind closed doors. New reports indicate that Republicans are now writing a back-room Affordable Care Act ‘stabilization bill’ instead of working with Democrats like they promised. After a year of relentless Republican attacks on our care, Americans have no reason to trust another partisan, Republican-only, secret deal. Both parties must be at the table on stabilization discussions in order to protect Americans from skyrocketing premiums caused by Republican sabotage.

“We call on Senator Susan Collins, who has publicly expressed opposition to a partisan stabilization bill, to demand a bipartisan solution and recognize that the GOP leadership has repeatedly broken its health care promises to her.

“Congressional Republicans should listen to the American people, who are saying loud and clear that ‘enough is enough’ with partisan repeal and sabotage of our health care.”

BACKGROUND

Protect Our Care Outlines Market Stabilization Must-Haves [2/9/18]

Idaho Reactions: Will Secretary Azar Uphold His Oath or Allow State to Blatantly Violate Federal Law?

Today, Blue Cross of Idaho announced that it will follow Republican Governor Butch Otter’s lead and violate federal law by offering insurance plans that don’t conform to the consumer protections mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Blue Cross of Idaho is leading the charge to take people back to a time when insurance companies could decide whether they were taken care of when they got sick, and it’s now incumbent upon the Trump Administration, specifically Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, to uphold the law of the land – just as he swore to do upon assuming his Cabinet position. How is this announcement being treated so far?

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Liver Foundation, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lutheran Services in America, March of Dimes, Mended Little Hearts, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National MS Society, National Organization for Rare Disorders: “The Federal Government Must Uphold The Requirements Of Federal Law.” “Idaho’s insurance bulletin would allow insurers to sell individual market plans that do not comply with federal law. Because the Idaho Bulletin purports to authorize the issuance of insurance coverage that is prohibited by federal law, it is legally invalid… The federal government must uphold the requirements of federal law that protect patients, their families, and the health system against these consequences. On behalf of our patients, and all Americans, we urge you to make clear that Idaho cannot authorize the issuance of health insurance coverage that violates federal law, and that any insurer that issues such plans risks enforcement action and serious penalties.” [ACS-CAN, 2/14/18]

Los Angeles Times: “Not A Good Sign For The Rule Of Law.” “If he is serious about his duty to uphold the Affordable Care Act, Azar has no real option other than to nip the Idaho venture in the bud. He could have taken a strong stand during his appearance on Capitol Hill Wednesday, but failed. That’s not a good sign for the rule of law.” [LA Times, 2/14/18]

Business Insider: “HHS Is Required By The ACA To Step In And Take Over Regulation Of Any State That Does Not Meet Regulatory Standards.” “Blue Cross of Idaho announced Wednesday it would take advantage of the state’s new loophole for Affordable Care Act regulations, prompting questions over how the Trump administration will respond… HHS is required by the ACA to step in and take over regulation of any state that does not meet regulatory standards, and the department has done so in four states already.” [Business Insider, 2/14/18]

The Hill: The Proposed Plans Contain Features “Not Allowed.” “[The] proposal is legally questionable and has drawn backlash from Democrats who say he is simply ignoring federal law. The [plans] would charge people with pre-existing conditions more and have a limit of $1 million in claims per year, according to the Idaho Statesman. Both of those features are not allowed under ObamaCare… Democrats have been pressuring Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to step in to stop Idaho’s plan and enforce the law.” [The Hill, 2/14/18]

Washington Examiner: Proposed Plans “Put Pressure On The Federal Government To Step In And Enforce Rules.” “Many experts have questioned whether this would survive a legal challenge, because Obamacare requires plans sold on the law’s insurance marketplaces, which offer coverage on the individual market, to meet certain benefit requirements… Idaho’s action has put pressure on the federal government to step in and enforce rules that the Trump administration has pushed to repeal.” [Washington Examiner, 2/14/18]

Bloomberg: Proposed Policies “Are Specifically Forbidden.” “[The policies proposed] are specifically forbidden by the 2010 law. The move sets up a potential conflict with the federal government. While President Donald Trump has said he opposes the law and has taken steps to undermine it, the administration will have to decide whether to enforce legal requirements that remain on the books.” [Bloomberg, 2/14/18]

Washington Times: The Trump Administration “Is Responsible For Enforcing [The Law].” “The Idaho situation is a key test for the Trump administration, which still wants to repeal and replace Obamacare but is responsible for enforcing the 2010 law while it remains on the books… Obamacare’s defenders say the Idaho plan skirts the law completely, however, so HHS must act to preserve hard-won consumer protections. ‘It’s cruel, and it’s an illegal attempt to repeal our health care,’ Save My Care, a pro-Obamacare coalition, says in new ads running in Boise, Idaho, and the nation’s capital. ‘Call Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Tell him to block Governor Otter’s attack on our health care.’” [Washington Times, 2/14/18]

As a reminder, here’s what legal experts are saying about Idaho:

Tim Jost, Washington and Lee University School of Law Emeritus Professor: “What They’re Doing Is Completely Illegal.” “Both in terms of federal penalties and in terms of potential private lawsuits, they are taking on tremendous liabilities here. What they’re doing is completely illegal. It’s kind of jaw-dropping.” [Bloomberg, 2/14/18]

Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation Senior Vice President: “This Is Simply Not Allowed.” “Idaho is allowing health insurance plans that charge sick people more than healthy people, have an annual limit on coverage, and don’t cover maternity care. That’s simply not allowed under the ACA. If a state like Idaho is not enforcing the ACA’s insurance protections, the federal government is obligated to step in and enforce the rules…. If HHS does not step in and enforce the ACA’s insurance rules in Idaho, it won’t just be about Idaho. Other conservative states will no doubt then start to allow insurance plans that don’t comply with the ACA.” [Twitter, 2/14/18]

Will Secretary Azar follow the oath he swore to uphold just weeks ago? Or will he allow states to violate the very laws he pledged to uphold?

3 Facts You Should Know After Sec. Azar’s Ways and Means Hearing

HHS Secretary Alex Azar appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee today and doubled down on the Trump Administration’s war on health care. His language may have been nuanced, but the policy results would be the same. Here are three key facts you should know after his testimony today.

FACT #1: THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S OPIOID FUNDING WILL NOT BE EFFECTIVE IF IT CONTINUES PARTISAN EFFORTS TO REPEAL THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND GUT MEDICAID

WHAT SEC. AZAR SAID: “The President’s Budget recognizes the devastation caused by this [opioid] crisis across America, by providing a historic new investment of $10 billion in HHS funding to address the opioid crisis and serious mental illness…”

THE FACTS: While the additional funding for opioids is welcomed, it will have little to no impact if the Administration continues its partisan push to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and gut Medicaid.

  • Vox: Trump’s budget could help fight the opioid crisis — if it didn’t try to repeal Obamacare. Vox: “Medicaid is particularly important in this area. A 2014 study by Truven Health Analytics researchers found that Medicaid paid for about 25 percent — $7.9 billion of $31.3 billion — of projected public and private spending for addiction treatment in 2014. That made it the second-biggest payer of addiction treatment after all local and state government programs. Yet not only would Trump’s budget plan end the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion, it would also make additional cuts to Medicaid.”

FACT #2: SEC. AZAR DOUBLED DOWN ON THE PARTISAN REPEAL ATTEMPT THAT WILL RIP COVERAGE AWAY FROM TENS OF MILLIONS, RAISE COSTS FOR MILLIONS MORE, AND GUT PROTECTIONS FOR PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

WHAT SEC. AZAR SAID: “The Budget supports repealing Obamacare and replacing the law with flexibility for states to create free and open healthcare tailored to citizens’ needs. The two-part approach is modeled closely after the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson amendment to H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017, and also includes additional reforms to put healthcare spending on a sustainable fiscal path.”

THE FACTS: The Graham-Cassidy legislation was the worst of all the partisan repeal efforts Congress considered last year that ripped coverage away from tens of millions of people, raised costs on millions more, gutted protections for pre-existing conditions, and slashed Medicaid.

  • Analysts Agree: Every State Loses Under Graham-Cassidy and Many Working and Middle Class Families See Their Costs Increase. Multiple independent analyses agree that the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill would cut federal funding to states. Over time, every state loses because Graham-Cassidy zeroes out its block grants and ratchets down its spending on the Medicaid per capita cap. This means people would not have access to the financial assistance to help lower their health care bills, and federal Medicaid funding would no longer adjust for public health emergencies, prescription drug or other cost spikes, or other unexpected increases in need.
  • 32 Million Would Lose Health Coverage. As a result of zeroing out block grants for Marketplace tax credits and Medicaid expansion and additional cuts to Medicaid, the Graham-Cassidy bill is essentially repealing the Affordable Care Act without replacing it.
  • Graham-Cassidy Would Raise Costs For People With Pre-Existing Conditions. Graham-Cassidy would allow states to let insurance companies once again charge people with pre-existing conditions more, which could raise costs for the more than 134 million Americans that have a pre-existing condition. An individual with asthma, for example, would face a premium surcharge of $4,340. The surcharge for pregnancy would be $17,320, while it would be $142,650 more for patients with metastatic cancer.

FACT #3: SEC. AZAR DOUBLED DOWN ON THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON MEDICAID

WHAT SEC. AZAR SAID: “Our budget proposes a new future for Medicaid that will restructure Medicaid financing, provide states with new flexibilities to better serve our communities, improve the state plan and waiver processes, and provide the right incentives to preserve the program for future generations.”

THE FACTS: The Trump Administration is doubling down on its war on Medicaid by continuing to push for the Graham-Cassidy legislation that ended Medicaid expansion, which has given 15 million people access to care, and by slashing traditional Medicaid, putting the care of millions of seniors, children, and people with disabilities at risk. The Administration’s attempts to impose onerous work requirements are not about work, but about kicking people off their health care. The fact is most people on Medicaid who can work, are working. These requirements are the opposite of what we need to be doing to help people find and keep jobs.

Protect Our Care Calls On Azar to Stand Up for Idahoans’ Coverage

After HHS Secretary Alex Azar dodged questions posed by the House Ways and Means Committee about an Idaho insurance company that intends to sell plans that violate Affordable Care Act minimum quality standards and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, saying “I’m not aware that our opinions or views have been solicited,” Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Dodging the question won’t cut it: Secretary Azar needs to stand up and protect health care for the people of Idaho by stopping the state’s illegal plan to allow pre-Affordable Care Act coverage. This morning we learned that Blue Cross Idaho is trying to take Idahoans back to the days of coverage caps, when people with insurance still lived one illness or injury away from bankruptcy. Even worse, the company is planning to charge people higher premiums based on their medical history, bringing Idaho back to the days when insurers could discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions like asthma or cancer. Medical bankruptcy and coverage denials are exactly the kind of insurance company abuses the Affordable Care Act was designed to stop, and it has done so with popular provisions that most Republicans claim to support. Now, it’s time for Secretary Azar to stand up for the people of Idaho and enforce the law that’s designed to protect their care.”

Ignoring Obamacare Rules, Idaho ‘Freedom’ Plans Come With Limits

Bloomberg // Zachary Tracer // February 14, 2018

After Idaho’s Republican governor promised to find creative ways to get around Obamacare, one health plan in the state plans to offer skimpy coverage that may violate many of the law’s protections for patients.

Blue Cross of Idaho said Wednesday that it will offer insurance plans that don’t comply with some Affordable Care Act requirements. The plans, branded as “Freedom Blue” coverage, have limits on annual medical spending and will charge sicker people higher premiums or deny them coverage in some cases — policies specifically forbidden by the 2010 law.

The move sets up a potential conflict with the federal government. While President Donald Trump has said he opposes the law and has taken steps to undermine it, the administration will have to decide whether to enforce legal requirements that remain on the books.

“Both in terms of federal penalties and in terms of potential private lawsuits, they are taking on tremendous liabilities here,” said Tim Jost, an emeritus professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law who has been critical of efforts to unwind the law. “What they’re doing is completely illegal. It’s kind of jaw-dropping.”

Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, said during a Senate hearing last year that he’d uphold the ACA as long as it remains law. Azar is testifying before Congress Wednesday. The department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ways Around Law

In early January, Idaho Governor Butch Otter directed the state’s insurance regulator to find “creative ways” for health insurers in the state to offer more affordable coverage. Otter said the state planned to use flexibility offered by the Trump administration in an executive order, and that it had authority to do so. The insurance regulator issued guidelines for the plans later that month.

“The door is open for states to pursue our own reasonable solutions,” Otter said. “We believe Idaho will lead the way in states taking back control of their insurance markets.”

“Our Freedom Blue plans bring more choices and lower prices to consumers,” Blue Cross Idaho Chief Executive Officer Charlene Maher said in a statement.

The plans have a $1 million annual per-person limit to how much care the insurer will pay for. Some also don’t have to cover services like maternity care, and can charge more to people who are sicker after asking them extensive questions about their health.

While such policies were banned by the Affordable Care Act, Idaho plans to use the law as a backstop. If individuals end up with medical expenses that exceed the $1 million limit in the non-Obamacare plans, Idaho will require insurers to help them move into ACA plans, which don’t have limits on medical spending.

 

New Poll: Affordable Care Act Remains Popular; Voters Blame Trump for Health Woes

A new survey from Public Policy Polling confirms that the Affordable Care Act remains popular, and that Americans are placing blame on President Trump’s sabotage of the law for rising health care costs.

The key findings are:

  • The poll finds approval for the Affordable Care Act 12 points above water (47% approval to 35% disapproval), a dramatic reversal from trends before Trump took office.
  • Over half of voters know Republicans are sabotaging health care: 51% believe the Trump administration is actively taking steps that will raise people’s health care costs.

“Surveys like today’s continue to show that Americans are fed up with Republican repeal and sabotage effects. Enough is enough: it’s time for Congress to stop trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and start working to bring down health care costs,” said Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse.

“Health care is definitely the issue that’s most contributed to the advantage Democrats have in 2018,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “Voters don’t like what Republicans want to do to their health care and that helps to both fire up the Democratic base and move swing voters to their side.”

Job or No Job, Republicans Are Coming for Americans’ Coverage

Regarding this afternoon’s reports that Congressional Republicans will seek to repeal yet another component of the Affordable Care Act, its requirement that employers with over 50 workers offer health insurance, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Just last week, the Trump Administration was encouraging states to cut working-age people off Medicaid, saying they should find a job if they want coverage. Now, Congressional Republicans think employers shouldn’t have to offer health coverage to their workers. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. There’s no two ways about it: Republicans want to take coverage away from millions of Americans, and as Paul Ryan admitted this morning, they’ll stop at nothing in their relentless war on our care. On behalf of the 151 million Americans who are covered through employer-sponsored insurance: enough is enough. It’s time to end the Republican war on health care.”

House GOP discussing repeal of ObamaCare employer mandate
The Hill // Peter Sullivan // 2.13.18

House Republicans are in discussions about repealing or delaying ObamaCare’s employer mandate to offer health insurance, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said Tuesday.

Brady told reporters that he has discussed the idea with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, as well as other members of Ways and Means.

“We’ve discussed that with him as well as committee members, so yeah, there is that discussion, and I’d like to see us make progress there,” Brady said.

He said he hopes relief from the mandate, which imposes a financial penalty on businesses with 50 or more employees that do not offer health coverage for their workers, would be retroactive to prevent employers for being penalized for not offering coverage back to 2015, when the mandate took effect.

“We want to make sure our businesses aren’t caught up in some sort of fines or punitive measures for the past three years as well …,” Brady said. “I think the goal would be to delay or repeal it in total but retroactive as well.”

The employer mandate is generally not seen as a core part of ObamaCare. It has drawn opposition from business groups who say it is a burden.

With more sweeping ObamaCare repeal efforts appearing unrealistic at the moment, Republicans are shifting to chipping away at certain parts of the law. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) earlier Tuesday called for an “incremental” approach to health-care reform.

The individual mandate requiring consumers have health-care coverage or pay a penalty, which is seen as a more central part of the law, was already repealed in the GOP tax-reform bill in December.

 

It’s Back: President Trump’s Budget Seeks to Revive Health Repeal

To: Interested Parties

From: Leslie Dach, Campaign Chairman, Protect Our Care

Subject: It’s Back: President Trump’s Budget Seeks to Revive Health Repeal

Date: February 13, 2018

——————————————————————————————————————————————–

President Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal calls for the passage of the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill, the worst of the partisan repeal bills Congress considered last year. If you forgot – and who can blame you, there were a lot of repeal bills! – Graham-Cassidy was deemed “crueler and more cynical” than previous repeal proposals, in large part due to its draconian Medicaid cuts, and garnered just 24% approval before it died in the Senate without a vote. It was opposed by the American Medical Association, AARP, the American Cancer Society, insurers, physicians, faith leaders, nearly every medical and patient’s rights organization, a coalition representing all 50 state Medicaid directors, and Jimmy Kimmel – who analysts said had a “better grasp of health care policy” than the GOP senators who pushed the proposal.

Specifically, the Graham-Cassidy bill Trump wants to bring back would:

  • Take away coverage from 32 million Americans by 2027, with 15 million Americans losing their insurance and premiums increasing by 20 percent in the first year.
  • Gut Medicaid by imposing severe cuts and per-capita caps, forcing states to either raise people’s taxes or make draconian cuts to schools and other vital programs.
  • Raise costs on working- and middle-class families by eliminating financial assistance that helps pay for care. Graham-Cassidy ends premium subsidies, which help 9 million Americans pay for coverage, and Medicaid expansion, which has helped 15 million people get the care they need. These programs would be converted into a block grant and eventually zeroed out.
  • Remove protections for those with pre-existing conditions, with the Congressional Budget Office finding that many people with pre-existing conditions “might not be able to purchase coverage at all.”
  • Harm women’s health by preventing Medicaid enrollees from accessing preventive health and family planning services through Planned Parenthood.

In short, Graham-Cassidy would irreparably harm the American health care system, and the fact that President Trump still considers it a good option shows just how out of touch he is with the American people. The negative reaction to its inclusion have been swift:

New York Times Editorial Board: “It calls for (yet again) the repeal of the Affordable Care Act… Medicare and Medicaid, which benefit one-third of Americans, are targeted for cuts of hundreds of billions of dollars. If Congress adopted Mr. Trump’s proposal, millions of people would stand to lose health insurance.”

Planned Parenthood: “This year’s budget plan proposes sweeping changes that, if implemented, would radically reduce people’s access to health care and information through vital programs, especially for women. Whether or not Congress subscribes to the president’s priorities, the entire proposal is a blueprint for policymaking that the administration will no doubt use to advance its agenda.”

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network: “Eliminating the health insurance marketplace subsidies and transforming Medicaid funding into a per-capita cap or block-grant structure could leave millions of Americans unable to access critical health services. Medicaid serves as an essential safety-net for more than 2.3 million Americans with a history of cancer, including one-third of all pediatric cancer patients at the point of diagnosis.”

American Lung Association: “Over the past year, Americans have been hit by repeated public health crises, from devastating wildfires and deadly storms to an influenza epidemic. President Trump’s budget proposal would simply make things worse.

Initial news coverage of the budget proposal also focused on the havoc it would wreak in the American health care system:

Los Angeles Times: “The White House is doubling down on the repeal effort, calling for massive cuts to healthcare assistance in its 2019 budget … Cuts of this magnitude – which parallel repeal legislation pushed unsuccessfully by GOP congressional leaders last year – would likely leave tens of millions more Americans without health coverage, independent analyses have indicated.”

Washington Post: “On healthcare for low-income Americans, Trump’s budget calls for cutting federal Medicaid funding by $250 billion over the next 10 years, as the administration envisions passing a law ‘modeled closely’ on a Senate Republican proposal that failed last fall to repeal the Affordable Care Act…  Experts say the overall reduction in government spending would cost millions of Americans their health insurance.”

Wall Street Journal: “The budget proposal includes $68.4 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services, a 21% drop from the funding level enacted last year. The proposal would also revive a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and cut spending on Medicare and Medicaid. It calls for enactment of a law to scrap the ACA and instead give block grants to states to establish their own health systems, a plan modeled after GOP legislation that failed to pass last year.”

CNBC: The new budget proposal also would seek a rollback of Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid benefits to poor adults. Medicaid offers health coverage to primarily low-income people. Before Obamacare, most states either denied Medicaid coverage to people who did not have dependent children or set very low limits on how much a person could earn and still qualify for coverage.

Business Insider: “The budget contains cuts to funding for Medicare and other social safety net programs. During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly promised not to cut funding to these programs.”

USA Today: “The budget proposes repealing the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid and limiting the amount of money states receive for the jointly-funded health care program for the poor. It would also end after two years the private insurance subsidies for people who don’t get coverage through a government program or an employer, while giving states grants to develop their own programs.”

STAT News: “The proposals are a hodgepodge of relatively narrow policies that take aim at various parts of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. One would reduce the amount of money doctors and hospitals are reimbursed for hospital-administered drugs under Medicare Part B; another would let some states engage in more aggressive negotiation for drugs in their Medicaid programs. Others take aim at a drug discount program for hospitals and at seniors’ out-of-pocket spending.”

Since taking office last year, President Donald Trump and his Administration have carried out an unrelenting war on our health care with a goal of repealing the Affordable Care Act and gutting Medicaid. Trump has used his administrative powers to sabotage our health care and continue to beat the drum of partisan repeal of the increasingly-popular Affordable Care Act.

While the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress want to keep up this war on health care in 2018, the American people are saying “Enough is Enough.” More than eleven million people signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov despite all the sabotage efforts. The Affordable Care Act is more popular than it has ever been. And millions of people across the country made their voices heard at rallies, town halls and through calling their Member of Congress to fight these repeal efforts. The American people are right: enough IS enough – it’s time for President Trump and the GOP to end their war on our health care.

Trump Administration Targets Women in its War on Health Care

After yesterday’s revelations about the Trump Administration’s continuing attacks on women’s health care, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“The past 24 hours confirm that the Trump Administration’s war on health care is specifically targeting American women. Not only did President Trump release a budget that would defund Planned Parenthood and slash Medicaid, denying millions of women access to basic health care, but we also learned that Trump’s HHS last month instructed a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group to write an official government letter that provides a roadmap for state Medicaid programs to restrict women’s access to the health care provider of their choice. These blatant attacks on women’s health care remain front and center in the Trump Administration’s ongoing war against the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and the entire American health care system.”

POLITICO, 2/12/18: “A conservative legal organization worked with the Trump administration to make it easier for states to defund Planned Parenthood.”

CNN, 2/12/18: “The Trump administration relied on a right-wing anti-abortion rights group to draft the letter it sent to states reversing Obama-era guidance that it’s against the law to terminate Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider … the Alliance Defending Freedom calls itself a conservative Christian nonprofit organization … but the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled it a hate group for its attacks on LGBT rights.”

New Poll: Independent Voters Hold Major Concerns About Trump’s War on Health Care

A new Priorities USA poll finds that independent voters continue to hold major concerns about President Trump’s anti-health care agenda. The poll confirms that voters realize Republican health care sabotage is driving up insurance premiums and exacerbating the high health care costs burdening working families.

Priorities USA: Democrats Must Keep Focus on Economy and Health Care

“Donald Trump’s policies are adding to the economic burdens of average families by raising the cost of health care and driving up insurance premiums. And Trump has broken his promise to crack down on excessive drug prices. Instead, he has given the big drug companies huge tax breaks while allowing them to charge as much as they want, without any controls or negotiation. 60% of voters have major concerns, including 71% among independents.”

Coverage Roundup: Trump’s Budget Revives Health Care Repeal

As the dust settles around today’s surprise move by President Trump to revive the Graham-Cassidy plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut Medicaid by including it in his annual budget blueprint, here’s a roundup of initial coverage:

Los Angeles Times: “The White House is doubling down on the repeal effort, calling for massive cuts to healthcare assistance in its 2019 budget … Cuts of this magnitude – which parallel repeal legislation pushed unsuccessfully by GOP congressional leaders last year – would likely leave tens of millions more Americans without health coverage, independent analyses have indicated.”

Wall Street Journal: “The budget proposal includes $68.4 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services, a 21% drop from the funding level enacted last year. The proposal would also revive a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and cut spending on Medicare and Medicaid. It calls for enactment of a law to scrap the ACA and instead give block grants to states to establish their own health systems, a plan modeled after GOP legislation that failed to pass last year.”

Washington Post: “On healthcare for low-income Americans, Trump’s budget calls for cutting federal Medicaid funding by $250 billion over the next 10 years, as the administration envisions passing a law ‘modeled closely’ on a Senate Republican proposal that failed last fall to repeal the Affordable Care Act…  Experts say the overall reduction in government spending would cost millions of Americans their health insurance.”

CNBC: The new budget proposal also would seek a rollback of Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid benefits to poor adults. Medicaid offers health coverage to primarily low-income people. Before Obamacare, most states either denied Medicaid coverage to people who did not have dependent children or set very low limits on how much a person could earn and still qualify for coverage.

Business Insider: “The budget contains cuts to funding for Medicare and other social safety net programs. During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly promised not to cut funding to these programs.”

USA Today: “The budget proposes repealing the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid and limiting the amount of money states receive for the jointly-funded health care program for the poor. It would also end after two years the private insurance subsidies for people who don’t get coverage through a government program or an employer, while giving states grants to develop their own programs.”

STAT News: “The proposals are a hodgepodge of relatively narrow policies that take aim at various parts of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. One would reduce the amount of money doctors and hospitals are reimbursed for hospital-administered drugs under Medicare Part B; another would let some states engage in more aggressive negotiation for drugs in their Medicaid programs. Others take aim at a drug discount program for hospitals and at seniors’ out-of-pocket spending.”

New York Times: The budget once again calls for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, an effort that has been tried and failed previously and which Republican leaders have largely abandoned as a priority.”