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Republicans Endanger Americans (And Their Own Political Futures) By Opposing President Biden’s Overwhelmingly Popular COVID Relief Plan

Washington, DC — Today, reporting shows Republican leaders are trying to prevent all their members from supporting President Biden’s overwhelmingly popular American Rescue Plan and endangering the health and safety of Americans in the process. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement: 

“Republicans are going to learn again, just as they did in 2020 when they ignored the severity of the pandemic and in 2018 after trying to repeal American health care, that defying the will of a large majority of the American people is political suicide. Republicans want to make it more likely you get infected with the virus and less likely you can get health care if you do. Why? Because they’d rather appease the radicals and extremists in the base of their party instead of following the will of the majority of the American people. Americans know that this rescue plan creates a surge in vaccines, delivers relief checks, will help schools reopen and make health care more affordable and accessible for people in red states and blue states so they want it passed now.

“But hey, if Republicans are intent on committing political suicide, who are we to stop them?”

New polling continues to highlight broad, bipartisan support for President Biden’s pandemic response and American Rescue Plan:

  • New Polling From Gallup Has Found That 67 Percent Of Americans, Including One In Three Republicans, Support President Biden’s Handling Of The Pandemic. “Several weeks into his first term in office, 67% of Americans approve of President Joe Biden’s handling of the coronavirus… Biden’s current approval rating for his handling of the coronavirus includes 95% of Democrats, 66% of independents and 34% of Republicans.” [Gallup, 2/22/21]
  • According To Recent Polling By The New York Times, Seven In 10 Americans Support President Biden’s “American Rescue Plan.” “More than 7 in 10 Americans now back Mr. Biden’s aid package, according to new polling from the online research firm SurveyMonkey for The New York Times. That includes support from three-quarters of independent voters, 2 in 5 Republicans and nearly all Democrats. The overall support for the bill is even larger than the substantial majority of voters who said in January that they favored an end-of-year economic aid bill signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.” [New York Times, 2/19/21]

These new polls join the growing body of evidence that voters strongly support Biden’s response and want Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan:

  • A CBS Poll Found That A Large, Bipartisan Majority Of Americans Support Congressional Passage Of A New Stimulus Bill To Help Those Impacted By The Pandemic. “A very large and bipartisan majority of Americans would support congressional passage of a new stimulus bill to help those impacted by the pandemic… Large majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, as well as Americans of all income levels would approve of a COVID relief package.” [CBS, 2/10/21]

[CBS, 2/10/21]

  • Meanwhile, The CBS Poll Found That “Most Americans” Say Their Family’s Finances Have Been Impacted By The Pandemic — Highlighting The Need For More Relief. “Most Americans say their family’s finances have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak in some way, including one in four Americans who say it has had a major impact. Lower-income Americans have been disproportionately affected: 35% of those with incomes under $50,000 say the coronavirus outbreak has left a major financial impact.” [CBS, 2/10/21]
  • Polling From Navigator Research Found That More Than Seven In Ten Americans Support Biden’s “American Rescue Plan.” “More than seven in ten support Biden’s ‘American Rescue Plan,’ and each provision of it earns support from at least three in five Americans.” [Navigator, 2/4/21]
  • The Navigator Poll Also Found That Key Provisions In The American Rescue Plan — Like Stimulus Checks — Have Support Across Demographic Groups, Including Republicans. According to the Navigator poll, 78 percent of Americans, including 60 percent of Republicans support new stimulus checks. Meanwhile, Republicans broadly support other key provisions: 57 percent support funding for vaccines and testing, 65 percent support paid family and sick leave, 64 percent support helping with health insurance premiums, 66 percent support small business grants, 53 percent support increasing the child tax credit, and 59 percent support rental assistance.
  • Hart Research Found That, Across Party Lines, Nearly Three Quarters Of Americans Favor Biden’s Rescue Plan And Want Congress To Pass It. “With support across party lines, large majorities favor President Biden’s COVID rescue plan and want Congress to pass it. After seeing the main provisions 74% favor the plan, including 46% who strongly favor it.” [Twitter, Geoff Garin, 1/28/21; polling for Protect Our Care]

    • Hart Research Found That Half Of Republicans Support The Relief Package. “There is broad, bipartisan support in the country for the Biden COVID package: 98% among Democrats; 72% among Independents; 50% among Republicans; 46% of Trump voters support it, even though it is explicitly identified with Biden.” [Twitter, Geoff Garin, 1/28/21; polling for Protect Our Care]
  • Quinnipiac University Polling Found That Nearly 8 In 10 Americans Support Sending $1,400 Stimulus Checks Directly To Americans. “Nearly 8 in 10 Americans are in favor of $1,400 stimulus payments to Americans with 78 percent supporting and 18 percent opposing.” [Quinnipiac University Poll, 2/3/21]
  • Quinnipiac Also Found That Most Americans — 61 Percent — Support Raising The Minimum Wage To $15 Per Hour.  “Respondents also favor Biden’s call for a $15 per hour federal minimum wage by a 61% to 36% margin, according to the [Quinnipiac] survey. [CNBC, 2/3/21]
  • According To Data For Progress, Nearly 70 Percent Of Americans, Including 80 Percent Of Democrats, 70 Percent Of Independents, And 55 Percent Of Republicans, Want To Pass More Relief As Soon As Possible.  “The majority of voters (69 percent) prefer to pass more relief as soon as possible to support small businesses, schools and Americans who are struggling, rather than wait and see what aid may be needed. Notably, we find bipartisan support: 80 percent of self-identified Democratic voters, 70 percent of Independents and 55 percent of Republicans want relief as soon as possible.” [Data for Progress/Invest in America, 2/21]
  • 68 Percent Of Americans — Including 67 Percent Of Independents And 55 Percent Of Republicans — Are Prioritizing Support For The Economic Recovery, Rather Than Being Concerned WIth The National Debt. “We find that the majority of voters (68 percent) support prioritizing as much support as possible for our future economic recovery, rather than being concerned with the national debt. Again, we find bipartisan support: 80 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 55 percent of Republicans want as much recovery as possible now instead of prioritizing a bill that is less costly.” [Data for Progress/Invest in America, 2/21]
  • Voters Overwhelmingly Support The Key Provisions In The American Rescue Plan. “We tested voter support on the different areas of economic relief that President Biden’s plan proposes. This includes: additional $1400 stimulus checks, extending and expanding unemployment benefits, grants and loans for small businesses, extending moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures and providing utility aid to struggling families, expanding Child Income Tax Credits and Earned Income Tax Credits, increasing the minimum wage to $15, and a range of funding for vaccine distribution, to schools, and to state, local and territorial governments. Overwhelmingly voters support all of these key provisions, with extraordinarily high levels of support for immediate steps to increase our coronavirus response such as support for small businesses and funding to state, local and territorial governments to prevent layoffs of frontline essential workers and distribute the vaccine.“  [Data for Progress/Invest in America, 2/21]


[Data for Progress/Invest in America, 2/21]

  • More Than Twice As Many Americans Support Key Elements Of Biden’s Agenda Than Oppose Them — The Most Popular Policies Being Those At The Center Of Biden’s Pandemic Proposal.  “When asked about the 20 policies that define President Biden’s agenda, more Americans support than oppose all 20 of them, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll. The margins are decisive. The majority of Biden’s proposals garner at least twice as much support as opposition. Nearly half are favored by more than 60 percent of Americans… Of all 20 policies covered by the poll, the two most popular were the ones at the center of Biden’s current COVID proposal: $2,000 relief checks (74 percent favor vs. 13 percent oppose) and increased federal funding for vaccination (69 percent favor vs. 17 percent oppose). A full 58 percent of Americans also support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, another key element of Biden’s COVID-19 rescue package.” [Yahoo News/YouGov, 2/1/21]
  • Meanwhile, Eight In Ten Americans Cite Strengthening The Economy And Fighting The Pandemic As Top Priorities For The President To Address. “Currently, about eight-in-ten Americans say strengthening the nation’s economy (80%) and dealing with the coronavirus outbreak (78%) should be top priorities for the president and Congress to address this year. Two-thirds (67%) rate improving the job situation as a top priority.” [Pew Research, 1/28/21]

COVERAGE: It’s a Big Week in Health Care (And It’s Only Thursday)

Democrats Make Historic Strides in Health Care

Just three weeks into Joe Biden’s presidency, he’s already proven himself as a health care champion. Since taking office, President Biden proposed the American Rescue Plan to help the country get the pandemic under control, proposed significant enhancements to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, and announced an upcoming special enrollment period so people impacted by the pandemic can get health insurance. This week, House Democrats worked to strengthen the vital health care provisions in the American Rescue Plan, and President Biden reversed Trump’s health care sabotage by putting the full support of the administration behind the ACA and denouncing the reckless lawsuit to invalidate the law. Coverage shows President Biden is prioritizing strengthening the ACA by expanding access to insurance and lowering costs. 

Democrats Include Key Health Care Measures In Their COVID Relief Package

Politico: Democrats Push Temporary Obamacare Expansion In Covid Bill. “Pieces of the Covid-19 relief package House Democrats released Monday night include the first major expansion of Affordable Care Act subsidies in more than a decade — a key plank of President Joe Biden’s health care agenda that they hope to pass in the coming weeks. Democrats are hoping that the beefed up subsidies, combined with Biden’s recent executive order to reopen the ACA’s markets and advertise heavily to entice people to enroll, will make a major dent in the ranks of uninsured Americans that have grown during the pandemic and ensuing economic recession.” [Politico, 2/8/21

The Hill: House Dems’ COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes 2-Year Boost To ObamaCare Subsidies. “House Democrats’ coronavirus relief legislation released Monday would increase the Affordable Care Act’s financial assistance for two years, providing greater help for enrollees’ to afford their premiums…Increasing ObamaCare’s financial assistance to make premiums more affordable has been a major Democratic goal for years, viewed as an improvement to the original ACA, but has been blocked by Republicans who oppose spending more money on a health care law they oppose.” [The Hill, 2/8/21

Washington Post: Affordable Care Act Subsidies Likely To Increase Under Congressional Plan. “The expansion of federal subsidies for Affordable Care Act health plans, stretching to reach people who are in the middle class or unemployed, is woven into a proposal the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to approve by the end of this week. The proposal also would raise ACA insurance subsidies for consumers already eligible for that help. The ideas have been adopted in the past year by the Democratic-led House but had no chance of becoming reality until the Senate and the White House shifted last month into Democratic hands.” [Washington Post, 2/10/21

Axios: Democrats Eye Big ACA Changes In COVID Relief Bill. “Democrats’ coronavirus relief proposal includes major changes to the Affordable Care Act, aiming to make health insurance more affordable for the millions of people who have lost their employer-based coverage during the pandemic.” [Axios, 2/10/21

Washington Post: The Health 202: Democrats Are Using Their Coronavirus Relief Package To Try Expanding Health Coverage.  “Legislation from the House Energy and Commerce Committee offers the dozen states that haven’t expanded their Medicaid programs under Obamacare a fresh new incentive to do so. Under the proposal released late last night, the federal government would cover an extra 5 percent of costs for all of their Medicaid enrollees – not just the expansion population – if states agreed to expand the program. The extra contributions would last two years.” [Washington Post, 2/10/21]

The Hill: Black Maternal Health Omnibus Package Introduced By Democratic Lawmakers. “A trio of Black lawmakers on Monday introduced an omnibus bill aimed at combating the significant health inequities that Black mothers face across the country…The package of bills would fund community organizations and state and local governments working to improve maternal health outcomes, training programs on bias, racism and discrimination in maternity care settings, and efforts to grow the perinatal workforce. It would also seek to address social determinants of health that can lead to poor health outcomes including access to housing, healthy food and water, transportation, child care services and improving access to health care.”  [The Hill, 2/8/21

Washington Post: The Health 202: Congress Is Moving To Lengthen Medicaid Coverage For New Moms. “Congressional Democrats have taken on a side project as they push forward President Biden’s coronavirus relief bill: nudging states to broaden their Medicaid programs. That includes lengthening coverage for new moms — a key Medicaid population who, in some states, can still get kicked off the program relatively quickly after giving birth. Legislation being marked up today says state Medicaid programs can cover new mothers for a full year.” [Washington Post, 2/11/21]

Stat: House Democrats Slip Drug-Pricing Proposal Into Covid-19 Relief Bill. “The policy aims to help states recoup some of the costs they incur in their Medicaid programs when drug makers hike the prices of certain drugs. Right now, federal law caps how much states can collect. Congress’s new policy would rescind that so-called ‘Medicaid rebate cap.’ The policy will have the biggest impact on drugs like insulin, which have seen massive price hikes and for which drug makers also give big discounts to private insurers.” [Stat, 2/9/21

President Biden Defends The ACA In Court

Wall Street Journal: Biden Administration Asks Supreme Court To Reject Challenge To Affordable Care Act. “The move was expected, as President Biden campaigned on expanding Obamacare along with a more vigorous federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. Former President Trump throughout his term denounced the signature law of the Obama administration, although he never proposed any alternative healthcare program after the Republican-controlled Congress rejected legislation to repeal the measure.” [Wall Street Journal, 2/10/21

Washington Post: Biden Administration Tells Supreme Court Obamacare Is Constitutional, Should Be Saved. “Just as Trump vowed to demolish Obamacare, as former president Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement is known, Biden, who was Obama’s vice president, promised during the 2020 campaign to strengthen and build on the health-care law.” [Washington Post, 2/10/21

New York Times: Biden Administration Urges Supreme Court To Uphold Affordable Care Act. “In the years since the enactment of the law in 2010, Republicans have worked hard to destroy it, and President Donald J. Trump relentlessly criticized it. But attempts to repeal it failed, as did two earlier Supreme Court challenges, in 2012 and 2015. With the passing years, the law grew in popularity and was woven into the fabric of the health care system, and its future has appeared increasingly secure.” [New York Times, 2/10/21

CNN: Biden Administration Asks Supreme Court To Save Obamacare, Flipping Trump Arguments. “The Biden administration told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it should uphold the Affordable Care Act, reversing the position of the Trump administration that had urged the justices to strike down the entire law amid the coronavirus pandemic…Wednesday’s move highlights President Joe Biden’s belief that the law is on strong legal footing. Last month, Biden announced he would reopen enrollment on the Affordable Care Act exchanges for three months, announcing that he was signing executive orders related to the law to ‘undo the damage Trump has done.’ The special enrollment period starts on Monday.” [CNN, 2/10/21

The Hill: Biden Administration Urges Supreme Court To Uphold ObamaCare. “The Biden administration on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act, a reversal from the Trump administration’s backing of a constitutional challenge to the sweeping health care law…The development, while unsurprising, marked a dramatic shift in legal positions since November when the justices heard oral arguments in the case.” [The Hill, 2/10/21

Politico: Biden Admin Asks SCOTUS To Uphold Obamacare, Reversing Trump Support For Lawsuit. “The Biden administration is withdrawing the federal government’s support for a challenge to Obamacare, telling the Supreme Court that the law should remain on the books. The move by the Justice Department follows speculation on whether Biden would try to withdraw from the high-profile red state lawsuit — fully supported by the Trump administration — to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act.” [Politico, 2/10/21

Modern Healthcare: Biden Administration Supports ACA At Supreme Court, Drops Trump-Era Challenge. “While the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on the fate of the Affordable Care Act, the Biden administration on Wednesday took steps to support the landmark healthcare law. In a letter to the high court, the Justice Department under the new administration said it believes Obamacare’s individual mandate is constitutional. But if the justices disagree, the Biden administration believes the rest of the Affordable Care Act can stand without the provision requiring insurance coverage.” [Modern Healthcare, 2/10/21

Reuters: Biden Administration Asks U.S. Supreme Court To Uphold Obamacare Law. “President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday told the U.S. Supreme Court that the Obamacare healthcare law should be upheld, reversing the position taken by the government under his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.” [Reuters, 2/10/21

NBC News: Justice Department Switches Sides, Urging Supreme Court To Uphold Obamacare. “The Justice Department notified the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it no longer supports the effort by Texas and other red states to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.” [NBC News, 2/10/21

HEADLINES: President Biden Delivers on Campaign Promise to Expand Access to Health Care

On Thursday, President Biden signed executive orders to reopen HealthCare.gov for a special enrollment period to help people get coverage and remove barriers to enrolling in Medicaid. These executive orders build on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act just as Americans who are facing an ever-worsening public health crisis need help the most. Coverage shows President Biden is committed to delivering on his health care promises and reversing the health care sabotage agenda of Trump and Republicans. These executive orders are important first steps to making sure Americans have more affordable health coverage and access to better care. 

Washington Post: Biden Reopens ACA Enrollment for Three Months in Opening Bid to Extend Health Coverage. “The directive, part of a series of executive actions the president is taking during his first days in office, is a down payment on his pledge to make health care more accessible and affordable and a sign of his determination to rehabilitate the landmark law after four years of Republican battering. Those goals have taken on more urgency as 25 million people have been infected with the coronavirus and millions of others have lost jobs.” [Washington Post, 1/28/21

New York Times: Biden Moves to Expand Health Coverage in Pandemic Economy. “President Biden on Thursday ordered the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces reopened to give people throttled by the pandemic economy a new chance to obtain coverage, and he took steps to restore coverage mandates that had been undermined by his predecessor, including protecting those with pre-existing medical conditions. Thursday’s orders also took aim at Trump-era restrictions on Medicaid, especially on work requirements imposed by some states on poor people trying to obtain coverage.” [New York Times, 1/28/21

  • New York Times: “Perhaps No Policy Is as Important to [Biden] as the Affordable Care Act, Which He Helped Secure as President Barack Obama’s Vice President.” Mr. Biden used Thursday’s appearance at the White House to begin shoring up health care programs and policies that have been critical to a Democratic resurgence. Perhaps no policy is as important to him as the Affordable Care Act, which he helped secure as President Barack Obama’s vice president. President Donald J. Trump tried and failed to overturn the law, then weakened it with executive actions and rules, including making it easier for people to buy cheap, short-term plans that are not required to cover pre-existing medical conditions. [New York Times, 1/28/21

AP: Biden Opens ‘Obamacare’ Window For Uninsured As COVID Rages. “President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered government health insurance markets to reopen for a special sign-up window, offering uninsured Americans a haven as the spread of COVID-19 remains dangerously high and vaccines aren’t yet widely available. Biden signed an executive order directing the HealthCare.gov insurance markets to take new applications for subsidized benefits, something Donald Trump’s administration had refused to do.” [Chicago Tribune, 1/28/21]

USA Today: Biden Signs Executive Action to Reopen Obamacare Enrollment Amid COVID-19, End Gag Rule. “President Joe Biden on Thursday took initial steps to expand health care coverage and reverse some of the policies of former President Donald Trump, including directing that people be given a new chance to sign up for government-subsidized care and lifting restrictions on abortion and family planning services.” [USA Today, 1/28/21

The Hill: Biden Signs Health Care Executive Actions to ‘Undo The Damage’ Caused by Trump. “President Biden on Thursday signed two executive actions focused on health care, describing the directives as a necessary effort to ‘undo the damage’ done by former President Trump…The president repeatedly insisted Thursday that the directives did nothing but reverse the Trump administration’s policies and restore the policies of the Obama administration.” [The Hill, 1/28/21

CNN: Biden Signs Executive Order to Reopen Affordable Care Act Enrollment. “It’s Biden’s first move toward delivering on his campaign promise to bolster the landmark health reform law that he championed as vice president. And it comes as more Americans could be facing the loss of coverage because of the pandemic-fueled economic downturn.” [CNN, 1/28/21

Modern Healthcare: Biden to Reopen ACA Marketplace, Revisit Work Requirements. “President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered HHS to create a special enrollment period to allow people to sign up for a health plan through Affordable Care Act marketplaces and reexamine policies like Medicaid work requirements that make it more difficult for individuals to access or afford coverage.” [Modern Healthcare, 1/28/21

The Upshot: Biden’s Obamacare Do-Over: Another Chance to Sign Up, This One More Publicized. “In December, the last Obamacare enrollment period under the Trump administration closed. Now that the Biden administration has arrived, it’s trying a do-over. The renewed effort reflects the Biden team’s view that the Trump administration did too little to help people find coverage, despite a public health crisis and waves of job losses. Although insurance sign-ups were up a bit compared with last year, the growth did not match the increase in need.” [New York Times, 1/28/21

New York Times: Biden’s Health Care Moves. “Biden’s orders still matter, because Trump’s actions mattered. Biden will try to strengthen protections for people with medical conditions. He will also create a new three-month sign-up period for Obamacare, starting next month, aimed partly at people who lost their jobs during the pandemic. The most recent sign-up period was in the fall.” [New York Times, 1/29/21

  • New York Times: “Perhaps Most Significant, the Biden Administration Plans to Promote the Sign-Up Period Heavily.” “Perhaps most significant, the Biden administration plans to promote the sign-up period heavily, through advertisements, email and other outreach, according to my colleague Margot Sanger-Katz, who’s been covering Obamacare for most of its existence. ‘Biden’s people think the Trump people bungled the regular enrollment period,’ Margot told me.” [New York Times, 1/29/21

The Health 202: HealthCare.gov Will Now Be Open During Tax Season.“This special sign-up period could help the Biden administration start reversing incremental declines in ACA enrollment. Over the course of the Trump administration, the number of people buying coverage on HealthCare.gov gradually eroded. Biden, who has made boosting marketplace enrollment a top goal, said yesterday that ‘basically the best way’ to describe his action is that it is intended “to undo the damage Trump has done.” [Washington Post, 1/29/21

  • The Health 202: “Biden’s Health Care Order Puts Medicaid Work Requirements Under the Microscope.” “Biden’s health-care order puts Medicaid work requirements under the microscope. Biden’s executive order on health care also directs federal agencies to reexamine rules that have made it more difficult for people to enroll in Medicaid or that could undermine protections for people with preexisting conditions.” [Washington Post, 1/29/21

Talking Points Memo: Biden Signs Exec Order ‘Restoring the Affordable Care Act’ After Trump’s Sabotage Attempts. “During its first two years, the Trump administration gutted money for advertising and for community groups that helped people enroll, seeing such an effort as wasteful. Biden’s executive order to reopen enrollment for a three-month period, extending from  Feb. 15 and May 15, may help people who have lost coverage in the past year due to the pandemic. Enrollment will be open, however, to those seeking health insurance for any reason, in any of the 36 states that use Healthcare.gov.” [Talking Points Memo, 1/28/21]

State Leaders Praise Protect Our Care’s Agenda For “The Health Care Congress”

Health care activists and elected officials from across the country are praising Protect Our Care’s agenda for the 116th Congress that will lower costs and improve care for all Americans. Leaders in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio are among those who have weighed in on the opportunity Congress has to build on the current health care law by making access to health care more affordable and accessible to all Americans.

 

Arizona Republic: Gallego, Kirkpatrick Call For ‘Health Care Congress’ To Fight For ACA. “The partisan battle over health care continued Tuesday as the liberal group ‘Protect Our Care Arizona’ demanded that Congress keep fighting for the Affordable Care Act amid ongoing attacks by President Donald Trump’s administration. Joined by Reps. Ruben Gallego and Ann Kirkpatrick, the Democratic coalition known for defending former President Barack Obama’s signature health-care-reform law — which critics on the right dubbed ‘Obamacare’ — called for the new 116th Congress to right the wrongs they say Republicans have done in the health-care realm. [AZCentral,1/30/19]

Tucson Weekly: Reps. Gallego And Kirkpatrick Talk Health Care.Ruben Gallego (CD-7) and Ann Kirkpatrick (CD-2), two Democratic representatives in U.S. Congress joined Alicia Held, an Arizona healthcare advocate, to talk about the state of health coverage in Arizona. They discussed what citizens can expect in the future during a press call hosted by Protect Our Care Arizona. Rep. Gallego said more than 20 million Americans have healthcare because of the Affordable Care Act, while Republicans have ‘waged a war’ against it. He said Democrats need to fight back in order to keep coverage for those who need it most. ‘Americans shouldn’t have to choose between paying for healthcare and buying groceries,’ he said.” [Tucson Weekly, 1/29/19]

Denver Westword: Attacking Outrageous Health-Care Costs In Colorado And Beyond.A new report released today suggests ways for the U.S. Congress to fight rising health-care costs. Meanwhile, Colorado Governor Jared Polis just signed an executive order creating what’s been dubbed the Office of Saving People Money on Health Care. Anne Shoup, communications director for Protect Our Care, a coalition in Washington, D.C. (with staff assigned to Colorado), that put out the report, ‘The Health Care Congress: Cost, Coverage, Consumer Protections,’ sees these efforts as both timely and complementary. As Shoup notes, ‘We’re calling on Congress to enact cost-saving measures for people, but it’s hard to say what we can actually get done…it’s encouraging to see a state like Colorado step forward to find ways to lower costs for its constituents.’” [Westword, 1/24/19]

Daily Iowan, Iowa Starting Line, Iowa State Daily: This Must Be The Health Care Congress. “Iowans and Americans have demanded access to quality, affordable coverage at the ballot box and millions in our state and across the country deserve to have this year’s Congress be the ‘Health Care Congress. What would that mean, for this to be the Health Care Congress? First,Congress should do everything possible to overturn last year’s federal court decision that struck down the ACA, which President Trump has repeatedly celebrated and which has faced virtually no opposition from Senator Ernst and other Republican members of Congress…the Health Care Congress also has to end the Republican war on people with pre-existing conditions…the Health Care Congress can and should strengthen Medicaid and Medicare. Aside from extending and increasing federal funding for Medicaid expansion, they can improve Medicare’s affordability by adding an out-of-pocket maximum for older Americans.” [The Daily Iowan, 1/24/19]

BlueNC: Protect Our Care Announces Health Care Agenda for New Congress. “This week, Protect Our Care unveiled their health care agenda for the new Congress. The agenda is detailed in a new report, which calls for bold Congressional action to defend the Affordable Care Act against Republican attacks, strengthen Medicaid and Medicare, lower costs, and enact further protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Congressman David Price and State Sen. Jay Chaudhuri joined Protect Our Care North Carolina on a press call yesterday discussing the report – The Health Care Congress: Cost, Coverage, Consumer Protections – and what it means for North Carolina. ‘The voters want us to protect their health care,’ Representative David Price said. ‘They want us to protect the Affordable Care Act…and they want us to do whatever it takes to bring affordable, good health care to all of our people.’ ‘In November…affordable health care was the top issue for North Carolinians,’ State Sen. Jay Chaudhuri said. ‘Republicans…have two options for how they will govern – they can work with Democrats to find common ground, or they can continue to carry out a highly partisan agenda.’” [BlueNC, 1/25/19]

Gongwer News Service: Advocates Urge Congress To Expand Health Care Access. “During a Columbus press conference, representatives from Protect Our Care Ohio and several allied groups touted the organization’s January report laying out the group’s health care priorities for Congress. Titled ‘The Health Care Congress: Cost, Coverage, Consumer Protections,’ the paper outlines several steps advocates argue would shore up health care options and lower treatment costs for residents of the Buckeye State. The group’s report comes a day after Gallup found that the percentage of U.S. adults without health insurance increased 1.3 percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to a year before, representing the largest single-year increase measured by the polling firm and Sharecare since they began tracking the rate in 2008. ‘There are many things this Congress could be doing to improve care and lower costs,’ Protect Our Care spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said. ‘Republicans in the Congress need to end their continued attack on the Affordable Care Act and join their Democratic colleagues in protecting our care.’” [Gongwer, 1/28/19]

Hannah Report: Groups Urge Congress to Protect the Affordable Care Act, Health Care. “Advocates who favor the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, urged Congress Friday to take steps to protect health care for Americans, including for those with pre-existing conditions and people who enrolled in Medicaid thanks to the ACA’s expanded requirements. The groups, which include For Our Future, Protect Our Care Ohio, ProgressOhio, and the Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN) Ohio, said the biggest threat to health care is a federal lawsuit originating in Texas that saw a federal judge rule the ACA was unable to stand on its own after Congress eliminated the tax penalty for not having health insurance. But they said there are other threats to the law as well, including efforts by the Trump administration to weaken it. Amanda Wurst, the Ohio director of Protect Our Care, said at a press conference held Friday in Columbus that Congress can take other steps to help lower the cost of health care in addition to preserving protections for those with preexisting conditions.” [Hannah Report, 1/25/19]

Elections Have Consequences: State and Local Leaders are Protecting and Expanding Health Care Even as President Trump and Republicans Continue Their Repeal and Sabotage Agenda Nationally

Last year, health care was the number one issue that drove people to the polls and fueled the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.  And, even as President Trump and Republicans continue to pursue their repeal and sabotage agenda, elected leaders at the local and state level are fighting back and responding to voters by taking action to protect and expand coverage, and lower costs for their constituents. Elections do indeed have consequences.

(CA) Gov. Gavin Newsom Moves To Expand Access To Health Care In California. “Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a broad overhaul of health care on his first day in office Monday, promising to throw the state’s financial power into an effort to lower prescription drug costs, expand Obamacare so middle-class families can receive subsidies to buy insurance, and offer Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented immigrants up to age 26. Newsom aides said the expansion of Affordable Care Act subsidies would be funded by a California version of the individual mandate, the former federal requirement that people either carry health insurance or pay a penalty on their taxes. Congressional Republicans and President Trump repealed the mandate in 2017, although the penalty does not disappear until the 2019 tax year. Newsom would reinstate it on the state level.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 1/7/19]

(CO) Colorado Democrats Introduce Public Option Health Care. “Creation of a public option health care plan is one of the most ambitious changes Colorado Democrats proposed Friday as they kicked off a new session of the General Assembly in control of both chambers for the first time in four years. The first five bills introduced in each chamber — indicators of lawmakers’ top priorities for the year — largely relate to health care and education costs. A Senate bill would create a public option health insurance plan that Coloradans who live in the highest-cost areas — mainly the Western Slope — could buy instead of their current insurance starting in the fall of 2019. A House bill would expand that program to the entire state by the fall of 2020.” [The Denver Post, 1/4/19]

(ME) On First Day In Office, Gov. Janet Mills Signs Executive Order Directing State To Implement Medicaid Expansion. “Medicaid expansion is finally advancing in Maine, more than a year after voters approved it at the ballot box. Newly sworn in Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat who campaigned on broadening access to health insurance, used her first executive order to direct the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to begin implementation of Medicaid expansion.” [CNN, 1/3/19]

(NM) In New Mexico, Democrats Plan To Introduce A Bill To Create A Medicaid Buy-in Program. “New Mexico Democrats eye creating the nation’s first Medicaid buy-in program, one of many blue-state efforts expected this year to expand health insurance coverage.” [Politico, 1/9/19]

(WA) Gov. Jay Inslee Proposes Public Option For Washington. “Gov. Jay Inslee and Democratic lawmakers Tuesday announced proposed legislation for a new “public option” health-care plan under Washington’s health-insurance exchange. The proposal, which Inslee said is the first step toward universal health care, is geared in part to help stabilize the exchange, which has wrestled with double-digit premium increases and attempts by Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. ‘We are proposing to the state Legislature that we have a public option that is available throughout the state of Washington so that we can increase the ability to move forward on the road to universal health care in the state of Washington,’ said the governor, who is considering a run for president in 2020.” [The Seattle Times, 1/8/19]

(WI) Gov. Tony Evers Signs Executive Orders To Direct State To Develop Plan For Expanding Medicaid, Find Ways To Protect ACA’s Consumer Protections. “In his second day on the job, Gov. Tony Evers signed executive orders Tuesday to study expanding health coverage and providing insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions…One order directs the state Department of Health Services to develop a plan to expand the state’s BadgerCare Plus health care program for low-income people under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Republican lawmakers have fiercely opposed the idea. The issue is expected to come to a head this year as Evers and lawmakers work on a state budget that will determine whether the state taps into additional federal aid through Obamacare. The second order tells state agencies to prepare plans to find ways to protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, bolster consumer protections, improve the public’s understanding of insurance, and require insurers to make their costs and terms easily understandable. Evers has said the best way to protect coverage for those with pre-existing conditions is to keep the Affordable Care Act in place. He campaigned on getting Wisconsin out of a multistate lawsuit challenging the law.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 1/8/19]

(NY) Governor Cuomo and the legislature to pursue reproductive rights protections. “Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Monday for including abortion rights in the New York Constitution, calling it an unprecedented opportunity to protect a woman’s right to choose… Cuomo took his call a step further, vowing to push an amendment that would enshrine a woman’s right to choose in the state Constitution. Such a move would make it more difficult for future governors and lawmakers to reverse: A constitutional amendment has to be approved by successively elected Legislatures and approved by a vote of the public. [Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 1/7/19]

(NYC) New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio To Fund Health Care For All, Including Undocumented. “New York Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a $100 million plan that he said would provide affordable ‘healthcare for all,’ reaching about 600,000 people, including undocumented immigrants, low-income residents not enrolled in Medicaid and young workers whose current plans are too expensive. The plan, which de Blasio dubbed ‘NYC Care,’ will offer public health insurance on a sliding price scale based on income, the mayor said during an interview Tuesday morning on MSNBC. It will begin later this year in the Bronx and will be available to all New Yorkers in 2021, and would cost at least $100 million once it reaches full enrollment, according to the mayor’s office.” [Bloomberg, 1/8/19]

Elections Matter: Virginia Medicaid Expansion Already Bringing Affordable Care to 200,000 Virginians

Washington, D.C. – Less than a year after Democrat Ralph Northam was sworn in as Virginia’s Governor, 200,000 people have already gained access to health care as a result of Medicaid expansion which officially took effect yesterday.  Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement in response:

“Elections matter, and nowhere is this more clear than in Virginia. Virginia Republicans spent years rejecting Medicaid expansion, but Virginia had its highest voter turnout in the past two decades in 2017, electing Democrats up and down the ballot, clearing a path for Medicaid expansion. Over the past two years, five states have voted to expand Medicaid, a clear and direct rebuke to the Trump Administration’s ongoing sabotage agenda on Medicaid and Americans’ health care. Make no mistake, from Virginia and Maine to Idaho, Nebraska and Utah, elections matter and hundreds of thousands of Americans are gaining access to life-saving coverage and rejecting the ongoing Republican war on health care which continues to this very day.”

What does Medicaid expansion mean for Virginians?

AP: More Than 200,000 People Have Already Been Enrolled. “Thousands of uninsured, low-income Virginians will have new health care coverage starting in the new year. Virginia is joining more than 30 states that have expanded Medicaid, a key part of former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul… The state’s Medicaid office has been working with hospitals, advocates for the poor, insurance companies and others to help enroll the newly eligible into Medicaid. Coverage starts Jan. 1 and the state said Friday that more than 200,000 people have been enrolled.” [Bradenton Herald, 12/31/18]

WSLS: “More People In The Commonwealth Have Access To Health Coverage.” “More people in the commonwealth have access to health coverage starting today.  That’s because Virginia joins 32 other states in expanding Medicaid coverage. This will give more adults between the ages of 19 and 64 access to quality low-cost and no-cost health insurance.” [WSLS, 1/1/19]

Delegate Sam Rasoul: “It’s Been A Long Process But Is Fantastic.” “‘It’s been a long process but is fantastic. Over the past couple months, there’s been open enrollment. And 200,000 Virginians have already been signed up into Medicaid and have health care coverage and many others, for the first time ever, starting today. And we still have another couple hundred thousand to go,’ said Delegate Sam Rasoul.” [WSLS, 1/1/19]

Casey Thompson, 21-Year Old Virginian: “It’s Massive.” “Casey Thompson, a 21-year-old who has been uninsured for two years, said she lost all her savings when she had to go to a hospital in May for a ruptured cyst. She said she is thrilled she’ll be covered under Medicaid expansion starting in January and will no longer have to worry about unexpected medical costs. ‘It’s massive,’ she said.” [Bradenton Herald, 12/31/18]

What spurred this change?

AP: Expansion Occurred After 2017 Democratic Wave Election, GOP Repeal Attempts. “Opponents argued that Medicaid expansion was fiscally irresponsible because the long-term costs are unsustainable. Several factors contributed to Republicans switching position on the issue after years of opposition. They include a Democratic wave election in 2017 and the inability of President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to repeal Obama’s signature health care law.” [Bradenton Herald, 12/31/18]

Was this mindset limited to just Virginia?

Lincoln Journal Star: After Republicans Refused, Nebraskans Voted To Expand Medicaid. “After seven years of legislative refusal to expand Medicaid in Nebraska, voters in November extended coverage to an estimated 90,000 adult Nebraskans who are working at low-wage jobs. That decision will bring a projected $1.3 billion in federal funding flowing into the state during the first three years of the new program.” [Lincoln Journal Star, 12/28/28]

Forbes: After Republicans Refused, Idahoans Voted To Expand Medicaid. “Idaho voted Tuesday to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act via ballot initiative, overcoming conservative Republican state legislators who refused for years to pass additional coverage for the state’s poor. With nearly 60% support and two-thirds of the votes counted, voters in Idaho were following the lead of voters in Maine who last November voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in a public referendum at the ballot box. Supporters of Idaho’s Medicaid expansion put it on Tuesday’s midterm general election ballot after their Republican-controlled legislature for years balked at the idea.” [Forbes, 11/7/18]

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Medicaid Expansion Makes Sense “Both Fiscally And Socially.” “Experts and the evidence agree, increasing access to MAT is one of the most important policy changes we could implement to combat the opioid epidemic. They also agree that Medicaid expansion is a key move that could be made to improve access; it is the largest source of funding for treatment. Medicaid, which has broad public support, covers the poorest, most marginalized people in our communities who often have some of the most complicated health care needs. In the past, Wisconsin’s Medicaid program had a high-caliber reputation. Like all state Medicaid programs, BadgerCare is jointly financed by the state and federal government, which has a generous matching structure for any state dollars spent. As Wisconsin’s opioid mortality continues to skyrocket above the national average, expanding Medicaid here makes sense both fiscally and socially.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/2/19]

TOMORROW: Senator Murphy and Attorney General Herring Join Protect Our Care to Discuss District Court Ruling to Repeal the Affordable Care Act

Ruling Means:

Medicaid Expansion is Gone

Protections for Preexisting Conditions are Gone

Seniors Forced to Pay More for Prescription Drugs

Millions to Lose Health Care

 

Washington, DC – On Monday, December 17, 2018 at 11:00 AM ET, Protect Our Care will hold a press conference call featuring U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Attorney General Mark Herring (D-VA) to discuss the shocking decision by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor to unleash chaos” in our health system by overturning critical Affordable Care Act protections. With this decision, Republicans have done through the courts what they couldn’t do in Congress: repeal the ACA, raise costs, end protections, and take health care away from millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

View Protect Our Care’s statement in response to the ruling here.

 

WHAT:

Press call to discuss Judge O’Connor’s ruling in Texas, et. al. vs. United States, et. al.

 

WHO:

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy

Attorney General Mark Herring

Leslie Dach, chair, Protect Our Care

Brad Woodhouse, executive director, Protect Our Care

 

WHEN:        

Monday, December 17, 2018

11:00 AM ET

 

CONTACT:

Please RSVP to [email protected] for the call-in number

 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

If Judge O’Connor’s ruling takes effect, critical Affordable Care Act protections essentially vanish overnight, unleashing — as the Trump Administration itself admitted in his court — “chaos” in our entire health care system.

  • Seventeen million more people could lose their coverage in a single year, leading to a 50 percent increase in the uninsured rate
  • Protections for 130 million people with pre-existing conditions, if they buy coverage on their own, are gone
  • The Medicaid expansion, currently covering 15 million people, could vanish.
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs, are eliminated
  • No longer will kids be allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26
  • The ban on annual and lifetime limits are gone
  • The ban on insurance discrimination against women and people over age 50 is gone
  • Limits on out-of-pocket costs are eliminated
  • Small business tax credits are gone
  • Marketplace tax credits for up to 9 million people are gone

“Misguided and Wrong”: Those Who Know Health Care the Best Say That the Judge’s Ruling Against the Affordable Care Act is the Worst

Last night, Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional and should be struck down. This ruling would end protections for those with pre-existing conditions, re-implement an age tax, no longer let children stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, implement an age tax on seniors, and kick millions of Americans off of their insurance. Those who know health care the best – patients groups, medical associations, insurance companies – have been unanimous in their rejection of this ruling:

THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION CRITICIZED THE RULING:

American Medical Association: “An Unfortunate Step Backward For Our Health System.” “The American Medical Association called the ruling ‘an unfortunate step backward for our health system’ and warned the decision could ‘destabilize health insurance coverage.’ ‘No one wants to go back to the days of 20 percent of the population uninsured and fewer patient protections, but this decision will move us in that direction,’ AMA president Barbara L. McAneny said in a statement.” [CNBC, 12/14]

THE NATION’S LEADING PATIENT GROUPS CALLED FOR THIS DECISION TO BE REVERSED:

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association,  And National Multiple Sclerosis Society: “We Are Hopeful The United States Court Of Appeals For The Fifth Circuit Will Support Individuals With Chronic Diseases And Preserve Health Care For Millions Of Americans.” “If the ruling stands, anyone with a pre-existing condition could be charged more for health coverage or denied access to coverage altogether. Health plans would no longer be required to offer essential benefits necessary to prevent and treat a serious condition and could once again impose arbitrary annual and lifetime limits on coverage… The court should have respected the will of Congress, instead of ruling to invalidate the law at the expense of the 27 million Americans who will lose their health care by 2020, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. In the event of an appeal, we are hopeful the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will support individuals with chronic diseases and preserve health care for millions of Americans.” [American Lung Association, 12/15]

American Psychiatric Association: “This Decision Must Be Appealed And Reversed.” “‘This ruling has an unconscionable result,’ said APA President Altha Stewart, M.D. ‘Should this ruling stand, millions of our patients will lose their health care. We cannot afford to go back to the days when Americans were denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions or when insurance companies would not cover mental health and substance use disorders.’ ‘This harmful ruling must be appealed and overturned,’ said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. ‘The court’s decision to invalidate the ACA, including pre-existing conditions protections and the Medicaid expansion will hurt our patients with mental illness and all illnesses. This decision must be appealed and reversed.” [APA, 12/15]

INSURERS WERE QUICK TO BLAST THE DECISION:

America’s Health Insurance Plans: “The District Court’s Decision Is Misguided And Wrong.” “The district court’s decision is misguided and wrong. This decision denies coverage to more than 100 million Americans, including seniors, veterans, children, people with disabilities, hardworking Americans with low-incomes, young adults on their parents’ plans until age 26, and millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. We argued in an amicus brief before the court that provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affecting patients with pre-existing conditions, and those covered by Medicaid and Medicare should remain law regardless of what the court ruled on the individual mandate. Unfortunately, this ruling harms all of these Americans.” [AHIP, 12/14]

Blue Cross Blue Shield: “We Are Extremely Disappointed In The Court’s Ruling.” Yesterday’s federal district court ruling in a case challenging the Affordable Care Act is the first step in what we expect will be a lengthy legal process…While we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ruling, we will continue to work with lawmakers on a bipartisan basis to ensure that all Americans can access the consistent, quality health coverage they need and deserve.” [Blue Cross Blue Shield, 12/15]

HOSPITALS REJECTED THE RULING:

American Federation Of Hospitals: “The Judge Got It Wrong.” “‘The judge got it wrong,’ said Charles N. ‘Chip’ Kahn III, president of the Federation of American Hospitals. ‘This ruling would have a devastating impact on the patients we serve and the nation’s health-care system as a whole. . . . Having this decision come in the closing hours of open enrollment also sows seeds of unnecessary confusion.’” [Washington Post, 12/14]

American Hospital Association: “America’s Hospitals And Health Systems Are Extremely Disappointed.” “America’s hospitals and health systems are extremely disappointed with today’s federal district court ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The ruling puts health coverage at risk for tens of millions of Americans, including those with chronic and pre-existing conditions, while also making it more difficult for hospitals and health systems to provide access to high-quality care…We join others in urging a stay in this decision until a higher court can review it and will continue advocating for protecting patient care and coverage.” [American Hospital Association, 12/14]

MEDICAL COLLEGES REJECTED IT, TOO:

American Association of Medical Colleges: “This Ruling Puts Millions Of Americans, Including The Most Vulnerable Patients, At Risk.” “Dismantling the ACA will be disastrous for the nation’s health care system. Patients—particularly those with preexisting and complex conditions—require stability and continuity in their care. Without access to affordable meaningful coverage, many would forego or delay necessary medical care. This ruling puts millions of Americans, including the most vulnerable patients, at risk.” [American Association of Medical Colleges, 12/15]

AND SO DID SMALL BUSINESSES:

Small Business Majority: Court “Made A Grave Error… Ending The ACA Would Be An Unmitigated Disaster.” “The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas made a grave error in the case of Texas v. United States when it recklessly decided the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional… Prior to the enactment of the healthcare law, small businesses and their employees represented a disproportionate share of uninsured workers, and small business owners paid 18 percent more on average for coverage than their big business counterparts. Since 2010, however, the growth in small business healthcare costs slowed dramatically, following regular double-digit increases prior to the law’s enactment. And because the law makes it much easier for the self-employed to obtain their own coverage, many more aspiring entrepreneurs have escaped ‘job lock’ and been willing to go out on their own to start new ventures. In fact, more than 5.7 million small business employees or self-employed workers are enrolled in the ACA marketplaces, and more than half of all ACA marketplace enrollees nationwide are small business owners, self-employed individuals or small business employees… Ending the ACA would be an unmitigated disaster for America’s entrepreneurs: It would cause a rapid rise in healthcare costs and create substantial economic instability. For the good of America’s job creators, the constitutionality of the ACA must be upheld, and we hope this decision is immediately appealed.” [Small Business Majority, 12/15]

THE RULING WAS PRAISED BY ONE PERSON, HOWEVER. WHO WAS THAT?

President Donald Trump: “Great News For America!” “Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!” [Donald Trump Twitter, 12/14]

Court Sides with Trump and Republicans and Rules to Overturn the Affordable Care Act: Here are the Facts

For the past two years, Republicans have been waging a relentless war on health care trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last night, Republicans got their wish when U.S. Northern Texas District Court Judge Reed O’Connor sided with Republican lawmakers in 20 states and invalidated the ACA in its entirety. With this decision, Republicans are close to doing through the Courts what they failed to do legislatively: repeal our health care, which will rip coverage from millions of Americans, raise costs, end protections for people with pre-existing conditions, put insurance companies back in charge, and force seniors to pay more for prescription drugs.

The ruling is legally wrong and must be overturned. If not, this ruling will, as the Trump Administration itself admitted in Court, unleash “chaos” in our entire health care system.

Thanks To The Republican Lawsuit, 17 Million People Could Lose Their Coverage

Republicans Convinced The Court To Put Insurance Companies Back In Charge, Ending Protections For The 130 Million People With A Pre-Existing Condition

  • According to a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress, roughly half of nonelderly Americans, or as many as 130 million people, have a pre-existing condition. This includes:
    • 44 million people who have high blood pressure
    • 45 million people who have behavioral health disorders
    • 44 million people who have high cholesterol
    • 34 million people who have asthma and chronic lung disease
    • 34 million people who have osteoarthritis and other joint disorders
  • 17 million children. One in four children, or roughly 17 million, have a pre-existing condition.
  • 68 million women. More than half of women and girls nationally have a pre-existing condition.
  • 30 million people aged 55-64. 84 percent of older adults, 30.5 million Americans between age 55 and 64, have a pre-existing condition.

Republicans Convinced The Court To Give Insurance Companies The Power To Deny Or Drop Coverage Because Of A Pre-Existing Condition

Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies routinely denied people coverage because of a pre-existing condition or canceled coverage when a person got sick. Now insurance companies have license to do this again.

  • A 2010 congressional report found that the top four health insurance companies denied coverage to one in seven consumers on the individual market over a three year period.
  • A 2009 congressional report found that the of the largest insurance companies had retroactively canceled coverage for 20,000 people over the previous five year period
Conditions That Could Cost You Your Care:

  • AIDS/HIV
  • Alcohol/drug Abuse
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Kidney Disease
  • Severe Epilepsy
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Pregnancy
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorder
Jobs You Could Be Denied Coverage Because Of:

  • Active military personnel
  • Air traffic controller
  • Body guard
  • Pilot
  • Meat packers
  • Taxi cab drivers
  • Steel metal workers
  • Law enforcement
  • Oil and gas exploration
  • Scuba divers
Medications That You Could Be Denied Health Care For Taking:

  • Anti-arthritic medications
  • Anti-diabetic medications (including insulin)
  • Anti-cancer medications
  • Anti-coagulant and anti-thrombotic medications
  • Medications used to treat autism
  • Anti-psychotics
  • Medications for HIV/AIDS
  • Growth hormone
  • Medication used to treat arthritis, anemia, and narcolepsy
  • Fertility Medication

Republicans Convinced The Court To Give Insurance Companies The Power To Charge You More

  • More than 100 Million People With A Pre-Existing Condition Could Be Forced to Pay More. An analysis by Avalere finds that “102 million individuals, not enrolled in major public programs like Medicaid or Medicare, have a pre-existing medical condition and could therefore face higher premiums or significant out-of-pocket costs” thanks to the Republican lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  • Premium Surcharges Can Once Again Be In The Six Figures. Thanks to the Republican lawsuit, insurance companies can charge people more because of a pre-existing condition. The House-passed repeal bill had a similar provision, and an analysis by the Center for American Progress found that insurers could charge up to $4,270 more for asthma, $17,060 more for pregnancy, $26,180 more for rheumatoid arthritis and $140,510 more for metastatic cancer.
  • Women Can Be Charged More Than Men For The Same Coverage. Prior to the ACA, women, for example, were often charged premiums on the nongroup market of up to 50 percent higher than they charged men for the same coverage.
  • People Over The Age of 50 Can Face A $4,000 “Age Tax.” Thanks to the Republican lawsuit, insurance companies can charge people over 50 more than younger people. The Affordable Care Act limited the amount older people could be charged to three times more than younger people. If insurers were to charge five times more, as was proposed in the Republican repeal bills, that would add an average “age tax” of $4,124 for a 60-year-old in the individual market, according to the AARP.
  • Nine Million People In The Marketplaces Will Pay More For Coverage. Thanks to the Republican lawsuit, consumers no longer have access to tax credits that help them pay their marketplace premiums, meaning roughly nine million people who receive these tax credits to pay for coverage will have to pay more.
  • Seniors Will Have To Pay More For Prescription Drugs. Thanks to the Republican lawsuit, seniors will have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare “donut” hole got reopened. From 2010 to 2016, “More than 11.8 million Medicare beneficiaries have received discounts over $26.8 billion on prescription drugs – an average of $2,272 per beneficiary,” according to a January 2017 Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services report.

Republicans Convinced The Court To Give Insurance Companies The Power To Limit The Care You Get, Even If You Have Insurance Through Your Employer

  • Reinstate Lifetime and Annual Limits. Thanks to the Republican lawsuit, insurance companies can once again impose annual and lifetime limits on coverage.
  • Insurance Companies Do Not Have to Provide the Coverage You Need. The Affordable Care Act made comprehensive coverage more available by requiring insurance companies to include “essential health benefits” in their plans, such as maternity care, hospitalization, substance abuse care and prescription drug coverage. Before the ACA, people had to pay extra for separate coverage for these benefits. For example, in 2013, 75 percent of non-group plans did not cover maternity care, 45 percent did not cover substance abuse disorder services, and 38 percent did not cover mental health services. Six percent did not even cover generic drugs.

Republicans Convinced The Court To End Medicaid Expansion

  • Fifteen million people have coverage through the expanded Medicaid program.

“If The Trump Administration’s Argument Were to Prevail, Insurers Could Once Again Be Able to Flat-Out Deny Americans Insurance Based On Their Health Status”: Reactions to Judge Ruling to Fully Repeal Affordable Care Act

Tonight, hand-picked, conservative, right-wing federal District Court Judge Reed O’Connor ruled the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. His decision would end protections for people with pre-existing conditions, re-institute lifetime limits on coverage, implement an age tax on older Americans, end Medicaid expansion, and take away coverage from tens of millions of Americans. In short, an absolute disaster for Americans and their health care.

His decision would cause irreparable harm to the nation’s health care system:

New York Times: 17 Million Americans Would Lose Their Health Insurance. “If Judge O’Connor’s decision ultimately stands, about 17 million Americans will lose their health insurance, according to the Urban Institute, a left-leaning think tank. That includes millions who gained coverage through the law’s expansion of Medicaid, and millions more who receive subsidized private insurance through the law’s online marketplaces” [New York Times, 12/14/18]

Vox: Americans Could Once Again Be Denied Coverage For Pre-Existing Conditions. “Usually, a presidential administration defends current law, but the Trump administration took a different approach in this case. It agreed with the conservative states that the mandate and, with it, the law’s rules that prohibits insurers from denying people health insurance or charging them higher rates, should be found unconstitutional…. If the Trump administration’s argument were to prevail, insurers could once again be able to flat-out deny Americans insurance based on their health status. No amount of federal subsidies would protect them. Medicaid expansion would remain, but the private insurance market would no longer guarantee coverage to every American.” [Vox, 12/14/18]

Texas Tribune: Ruling “Could Throw The Nation’s Health Care System Into Chaos.” “In a ruling that could throw the nation’s health care system into chaos, Fort Worth-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor on Friday ruled that a major provision of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional — and that the rest of the landmark law must fall as well…Legal scholars — even some conservatives who oppose the law — have nonetheless called Texas’ argument unconvincing.” [Texas Tribune, 12/14/18]

Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation: “If Upheld, This Would Throw Out Not Only The law’s Pre-Existing Condition Protections, But Also Everything Else.” “If upheld, this would throw out not only the law’s pre-existing condition protections, but also everything else — premium subsidies, expanded Medicaid, preventive services, and much more.” [Larry Levitt Twitter, 12/14/18]

His decision came following midterm elections in which health care carried Democrats to elected office across the country:

Politico: Decision Comes After Midterm Elections Which Partially Served “As A Rebuke To Republican Efforts To Tear Down Obamacare.” “The invalidation of the landmark 2010 law is certain to send shock waves through the U.S. health system and Washington after a midterm election seen in part as a rebuke to Republican efforts to tear down Obamacare.” [Politico, 12/14/18]

CNN: “Protecting Those With Pre-Existing Conditions Became A Central Focus Of [Midterm] Races.” “The lawsuit entered the spotlight during the midterm elections, helping propel many Democratic candidates to victory. Protecting those with pre-existing conditions became a central focus of the races. Some 58% of Americans said they trust Democrats more to continue the law’s provisions, compared to 26% who chose Republicans, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation election tracking poll released in mid-October.” [CNN, 12/14/18]

His decision came as open enrollment wraps up, underscoring the GOP’s obsession with sabotaging America’s health care system:

Bloomberg: Decision “Underscores A Divide Between Republicans Who Have Long Sought To Invalidate The Law And Democrats Who Fought To Keep It In Place.” “The decision Friday finding the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional comes just before the end of a six-week open enrollment period for the program in 2019 and underscores a divide between Republicans who have long sought to invalidate the law and Democrats who fought to keep it in place.” [Bloomberg, 12/14/18]

Washington Examiner: The Decision Came The Day Before The End Of Open Enrollment, Cementing the Trump Administration’s Sabotage Of The Marketplace. “The decision came just a day ahead of when the open enrollment for Obamacare’s marketplaces are set to close across most of the U.S. Enrollment in these marketplaces has been lagging, with some critics arguing that the zeroing out of the fine is partially to blame.” [12/14/18]

Axios: “Republicans Have Never Come Up With A Replacement Plan That Would Offer The Same Level Of Protection As The ACA.” “In an interview with “Axios on HBO,” President Trump said he’d reinstate protections for pre-existing conditions if the lawsuit gutted the ACA. But as Axios’ Sam Baker notes, Republicans have never come up with a replacement plan that would offer the same level of protection as the ACA.” [Axios, 12/14/18]

And his decision was written on questionable legal grounds:

The Hill: “Legal Experts In Both Parties Have Denounced [The Judge’s] Argument.” “In a controversial move, the judge added that because the mandate is ‘essential’ to the rest of the law, without the mandate, the entire law is invalid. Legal experts in both parties have denounced that argument, saying it is obvious that Congress wanted the rest of the Affordable Care Act to remain when it repealed only the mandate penalty last year.” [The Hill, 12/14/18]

Washington Post: “Many Health-Law Specialists Have Viewed Its Logic As Weak.” “A federal judge in Texas threw a dagger on Friday into the Affordable Care Act, ruling that the entire health-care law is unconstitutional because of a recent change in federal tax law….Since the suit was filed in January, many health-law specialists have viewed its logic as weak but nevertheless have regarded the case as the greatest looming legal threat to the 2010 law, which has been a GOP whipping post ever since and assailed repeatedly in the courts.” [Washington Post, 12/14/18]

Jonathan Cohn, HuffPost: “This Is A Breathtaking Ruling In Favor Of A Lawsuit That Even Conservative Legal Experts Have Trashed.” [Jonathan Cohn Twitter, 12/14/18]

Paul McLeod, Buzzfeed: When It Comes To Judicial Activism, “You Can’t Come Up With A Clearer Example Than This.” “Can’t stress enough that when we hear about ‘judicial activism’ you can’t come up with a clearer example than this. This judge overturned the will of Congress (technical details of why/how are in the story.) But legal experts I talked to described this interpretation as ludicrous.” [Paul McLeod Twitter, 12/14/18]

Experts were incredulous:

Nicholas Bagley, University Of Michigan Health Law Professor: “This Is Insanity In Print.” “The court’s decision is NOT limited to guaranteed issue and community rating. In the court’s view — and this is *absolutely* insane — the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional…If you were ever tempted to think that right-wing judges weren’t activist — that they were only “enforcing the Constitution” or “reading the statute” — this will persuade you to knock it off. This is insanity in print, and it will not stand up on appeal.” [Nicholas Bagley Twitter, 12/14/18]

Timothy Jost, Washington And Lee University Law Professor: “It’s Timed To Cause Maximum Chaos.” “This is breathtaking in its sweep & I think O’Connor has no idea what he’s doing..This is going to get thrown out. But I also think it’s timed to cause maximum chaos.” [Emma Platoff, Texas Tribune Reporter, 12/14/18]

And here’s what elected officials said:

Speaker-Designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “Tonight’s District Court Ruling Exposes The Monstrous Endgame Of Republicans’ All-out Assault On People With Pre-existing Conditions.” “Tonight’s district court ruling exposes the monstrous endgame of Republicans’ all-out assault on people with pre-existing conditions and Americans’ access to affordable health care. The GOP Congress tried and failed to destroy the Affordable Care Act and protections for pre-existing conditions.  Then, in the midterm election, the American people delivered a record-breaking margin of almost 10 million votes against House Republicans’ vile assault on health care. Now, the district court ruling in Republicans’ lawsuit seeks to subvert the will of the American people and sow chaos in the final day of HealthCare.gov open enrollment.” [Office Of The Speaker-Designate, 12/14/18]

House Ways & Means Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA), Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA): “It Is An Ideological Decision In A Case That Has No Legal Merit.” “This reckless court decision endangers the lives of millions of Americans who are going to lose their health care. It is an ideological decision in a case that has no legal merit.  Last month’s election results showed how important access to health coverage and protections for pre-existing conditions are for American families, and we are calling for an emergency stay of this heartless ruling. We will take immediate action in the new Congress to intervene in this case and appeal this decision. House Democrats will do whatever it takes to make sure the protections enshrined in the Affordable Care Act endure. The lives and wellbeing of millions of Americans – including those living with pre-existing conditions – are on the line.” [Ways and Means Democrats, 12/14/18]

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY): “If This Awful Ruling Is Upheld In The Higher Courts, It Will Be A Disaster For Tens Of Millions Of American Families.” “If this awful ruling is upheld in the higher courts, it will be a disaster for tens of millions of American families, especially for people with pre-existing conditions. The ruling seems to be based on faulty legal reasoning and hopefully it will be overturned. Americans who care about working families must do all they can to prevent this district court ruling from becoming law.” [Sen. Chuck Schumer Twitter, 12/14/18]

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): “This Is A Five Fire Alarm — Republicans Just Blew Up Our Health Care System.” “This is a five alarm fire — Republicans just blew up our health care system. The anti-health care zealots in the Republican Party are intentionally ripping health care away from the working poor, increasing costs on seniors, and making insurance harder to afford for people with preexisting conditions…Don’t be fooled, this rests one hundred percent on the shoulders of President Trump and Republicans in Congress who empower him. Trump took the extraordinary step of sending his lawyers to argue to end health coverage for 20 million people and he got his wish. Not a single Senate Republican challenged him, and now they own this disaster as much as he does.” [Sen. Chris Murphy, 12/14/18]

Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR): “A Deliberate, Ideological Move To Sabotage The Affordable Care Act At The Expense Of Families’ Health Care.” “Today’s ruling is an assault on all Americans’ basic health care rights and judicial overreach at its worst. Trump and Republicans in Congress will achieve their long-sought goals if this ruling stands: the elimination of pre-existing condition protections and Medicaid coverage for millions of vulnerable Americans. Seniors will pay more for their prescriptions and middle-class families will lose tax breaks that keep their health care affordable. This judge chose to deliver his ruling the day before the end of open enrollment – a deliberate, ideological move to sabotage the Affordable Care Act at the expense of families’ health care.” [Sen. Ron Wyden, 12/14/18]